The Responsibility of Snow and Ice Removal

As we head into the winter months, the weather will bring accumulations of snow and ice to many parts of the country. With winter weather comes an increased risk of slip and fall accidents.

When snow and ice accumulate, property owners have a responsibility to keep areas safe for the public. Public walkways, accessible parking areas, and parking lots are required to be cleared of snow and ice to be safely available for pedestrians. Homeowners also need to be aware of how to maintain snow and ice on their property.

To meet this responsibility, property owners should anticipate dangers caused by accumulating snow and ice. This includes periodically inspecting the property, as well as implementing snow and ice removal or remediation as soon as possible, to mitigate the risk of falls and injuries. Consideration must also be given to storage locations and piles. Daily swings in temperature can melt water from the piles causing it to run across walking surfaces where it can re-freeze and cause a reoccurring hazard with each freeze and thaw.

Owners can hire a plow company, use shovels or snow blowers, and put down snow melt products, sand, or other abrasives to provide traction for pedestrians. Local authorities define the timeframe for snow removal, and these local rules should be used in creating the owner’s snow removal policy.

In slip and fall cases, CED engineers look at various factors, including weather conditions, temperature variations, snow removal activities, victim and witness statements, surveillance video, and parking lot and walkway design. With this and other data, an engineer can determine whether the removal efforts were sufficient. If you need help with a slip and fall case this winter, submit a case request online.