Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Best Practices course delivers free equipment, operations training

'This growing body of resources currently includes 15 documents available exclusively to SIMA members as part of our commitment to deliver outstanding value.'
Even during the season, it doesn’t hurt to review best practices to keep your minds fresh for the next event. SIMA’s Operational Equipment & Safety Best Practices course can help members keep training and safety front and center.
This growing body of resources currently includes 15 documents available exclusively to SIMA members as part of our commitment to deliver outstanding value.
These checklists and quick reference cards can be downloaded, printed and used as part of a comprehensive training program.
Looking toward 2018, our goal is to continue to add resources to this course, allowing our member companies access to free training and topics that will help ensure safer, more efficient operations. 
Current resources available for download:
  • Checklists
    • Pre-trip plow and spreader safety inspections
    • Snow site engineering planning
    • Snow vehicle hazards
    • Pre-storm equipment review
    • Preseason risk assessment
    • Snow kit contents
  • Quick Cards
    • Fuel storage for cold weather
    • Safe operations of heavy equipment in cold weather
    • PPE for snow and ice management
    • Snow shoveling safety
    • Snow blower hazards
    • Equipment maintenance
  • Resources
    • Salt brine equipment basics
    • Incident report template (English and Spanish)
    • Safety best practices
    • Snow plow pump troubleshooting
If you have a topic for consideration, email Brian Birch at The course is available for download here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

SIMA adds DVDs to training video series


Remember 2001? It was a year of many exciting things...Harry Potter, the Segway, the iPod, *NSYNC. And don’t forget...SIMA launched its first training video: Basic Snowplowing Techniques. After the initial success of that video, SIMA produced six more, and they became the de facto industry standard for basic and refresher snow training. But the snow industry has grown and changed. Our videos began to have a certain retro feel and needed a revamp. Instead of trying to redo them one by one over a long period of time, SIMA completely redesigned them all at once. The new SIMA Training Video Series, which includes six videos, was launched in late summer 2017, and includes:
  • Snowplowing Safety & Preparation: This video is designed to introduce snowplow operators to basic snowplowing principles and general techniques, including preseason preparations and checks, transporting the plow and general plowing tips and techniques.
  • Essential Snowplowing Techniques: This video concentrates on commercial snow removal operations. It assumes the operator has received basic training, knows safety issues and has experience in clearing driveways and other properties. It includes equipment and safety, techniques and obstacles, and plow scenarios.
  • NEW! Snow Site Engineering and Planning: This video walks through the process of planning and implementing a site engineering strategy; to increase safety and efficiency; and to identify key obstacles, priorities and hazards prior to the snow season.
  • Containment Snow Plows and Pushers: This video provides practical and strategic operations, including benefits of using a containment plow, operator safety and troubleshooting on-site issues.
  • Sidewalk Clearing of Snow and Ice: This video highlights key safety issues and techniques needed to use shovels and snow blowers. It includes guidelines for dressing appropriately, health and wellness tips, shoveling techniques, and snowblower safety and techniques.
  • Skid Steer Loaders and Compact Equipment: This video covers a range of topics, including site application, attachments, techniques, safety, training and preventive maintenance. Other topics include equipment advantages, common mistakes and tips and bidding help.
Initially, SIMA planned to only offer the videos via streaming in the SIMA Training Center since it is the best, most cost-effective way for us to distribute these training tools. However, after much discussion and feedback from our members, we decided to also provide DVDs. We ran our first press of DVDs (all six videos for one low price) in October, and they are available for purchase now.

Training video series at-a-glance
  • Number of training videos 6
  • All new video footage, including use of drones
  • Residential and commercial items addressed
  • Available streaming in the SIMA Training Center, on DVD or both
  • Includes simple quizzes for training documentation
  • Most videos are available in Spanish
  • Average length of each video 30 minutes 
To learn more about each video, to see a preview or to purchase, visit

Monday, December 4, 2017

Workforce work to be done

'Our goal is to keep the conversation going and to help our members make progress in the area of workforce development and retention.'

By Brian Birch, CAE
Here’s what we know about our industry’s workforce: Finding and retaining good employees remains the No. 1 challenge. That’s the official word based on feedback SIMA was able to collect prior to the September 2017 Season Opener. 

Of course, this issue is bigger than just the snow industry; most service-related industries are struggling. As one of thousands of trade associations, SIMA is wrestling with the true impact our association can have on such a widespread issue. We felt the Season Opener, with its focus on recruitment and talent management, was a good place to start.

Prior to the event, SIMA deployed a simple survey designed to solicit feedback in two broad areas:
  1. Labor recruitment. How do you recruit labor for snow, and what technologies/tools are useful in that process?
  2. Careers. What benefits and areas should be considered in an effort to keep long-term employees, and which of these are the most crucial?
Attendees were also asked to provide any organizational charts, employee pay grades/levels (structure, not compensation) and role descriptions for snow-specific work. After repeated attempts, only one attendee shared that information. This was insightful, since it showed us the challenge is twofold:
  1. Many companies struggle with organizing and keeping updated organizational charts, pay grade standards and even role descriptions; 
  2. Our members consider this proprietary information and hence are reluctant to share.
During the Season Opener event, more than 50 professionals engaged in peer-to-peer roundtables on labor and careers, sharing of real-world scenarios that have worked and brainstorming ideas for improved attraction and retention of employees. We consolidated the data collected into a final report, which was emailed to all attendees in early October. If you were unable to attend and would like a copy, email

Potential workforce initiatives
Our goal is to keep the conversation going and to help our members make progress in the area of workforce development and retention. Here are some possible paths SIMA could take. We would love your input. 
  1. Snow Compensation & Benefits Report: Many industries provide data-driven averages of compensation levels (salaried and non-salaried), as well as benefits (health care, retirement, etc.) for various job roles. SIMA could work with a third-party entity that specializes in this research to conduct such a study every two to three years.
  2. Snow Organizational Charts and Roles/Responsibilities Library: Little research has been done on roles and responsibilities in the industry. SIMA could solicit submissions of organizational charts and roles/responsibilities to build a library that more definitively identifies positions essential to the success of a snow and ice management company. All reported information would be analyzed to find common types of structures, and all reported information would be anonymous. This could be compiled into a report or searchable database for SIMA members. The project could also take the form of a written report with a series of examples, coupled with policies/tips and templates for employee reviews and compensation discussions. 
  3. Best Practices in Snow Recruitment: SIMA could work with the Best Practices & Standards Committee to select best-in-class snow companies to create a standardized set of recommendations/policies for labor recruitment, including sources, technologies, drug/background check policies/procedures, and employee referral program policies and administration.
  4. Snow Industry Help Wanted/Jobs Board: SIMA could implement an online tool that enables snow professionals to post help wanted/job openings, including connecting contractors to subcontractors. SIMA could partner with industry-related organizations in this area.
We invite you to share your input about which options, if any, would be helpful to you, by emailing