November 28, 2022
Professionalism in the snow and ice industry
By Gerald Boot
Chair Landscape Ontario Snow and Ice Sector Group

In May of 2022 the CSA group produced a Workshop Agreement on Assessing the need for a Snow and Ice National Standard of Canada. Four key issues were identified: liability, training and competency, environmental impacts and regulatory framework. They indicated that they could not lead this initiative at that time. While we wait for a National Standard for Canada, Landscape Ontario's Snow and Ice Sector Group continues to work toward that initiative. This past summer, we developed a curriculum for training employees in the snow and ice industry.

The intent is to improve safety, establish industry practices and ensure that environmental concerns are a component of the training. A person starting out in the industry will establish a career path to achieve a level of knowledge and competency equivalent to someone who has operated in the Industry for many years.  

The Safety course is a start position for snow workers who are not required to drive or operate heavy equipment. Here, they will find out that the industry does offer a career path which has been acknowledged as an industry flaw and a problem for the industry in attracting and keeping good people.

The Snow Apprentice course will involve basic entry level training involving a practical component. The practical component is to be confirmed by an individual holding an assistant supervisor accreditation. A company generated confirmation sheet provided by the training provider must be returned to the training provider before a certificate is issued. A further verification process is the keeping of a passport by the trainee. This way the trainee is keeping their own records as they seek advancement along a career path.

The Assistant Supervisor course is taken after someone has developed some experience and now seeks a leadership role. Record keeping and safety are emphasized in this course more fully than the snow apprentice course and it is stressed that advancement in the industry career path is more likely when an individual accepts and ensures that record keeping is always occurring. Complete documentation is important to the industry being more successful in explaining what it did, when it did it and how much freeze point depressant was used.

The Area Supervisor/Dispatcher course will develop the theoretical knowledge of a working dispatcher to fulfill the following roles; call for mobilization, supervise and document activity or personnel, determine the salt dispense rate of low, medium, high in response to the site and weather conditions, weather system analysis, documenting site observations, dew point, wind, forecasting, ground temperature, weather reports, radar, proper use of daily journals, event and patrol documenting, site and equipment inspections.

The Manager or Owner course will provide the legal framework in which a snow business operates. This includes the growing complexity of employment law, important aspects of contractual law, key obligations in the insurance contract, understanding insurance certificates, and a review of the litigation environment.

The Pre-season Inspection course will expand in detail how a pre-season inspection will be carried out and provide a step-by-step process and introduce tools that can and will be used to conduct and document a pre-season inspection by the owner, site manager or consultant.

These courses will be provided by an online course delivery system which has a number of benefits including that the contractor company can pull a trainees passport, confirming training status and schedule future training.

As well as developing the curriculum of training an accreditation system was also developed. At the end of the day the intent is to establish better contractor members, offer a career path to those in the industry, develop a directed system intended to improve safety and improve environmental handling of materials so that this industry is alleviating or mitigating deleterious impacts to the environment by oversalting.

As we move forward, it is important that all companies in the snow and ice industry get both management and field staff trained. A good start is the Smart about Salt training which is a pre-requisite for The Area Supervisor/Dispatcher course.