Importance of Snow Removal; Doing it Right Can Reduce Liability for Apartment and Commercial Building Owners

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Twin Cities Tru-Serve General Manager Troy Norberg offers tips for snow removal at apartment complexes and commercial and nonprofit buildings, including staying ahead of snow and ice removal throughout the winter months.

Remove snow right the first time and keep sidewalks and steps dry.

Apartment, commercial and nonprofit building owners are better off removing snow immediately to avoid problems later, especially when rain and heavy snow is involved.

It should not come as a surprise that the Twin Cities area ranks high as a metropolitan area known for snow removal and winter safety. The area has an average annual snowfall of 45.3 inches and an average of 100 days per year with at least one inch of snow cover. Not only does snow fall from October through March, it can be preceded, mixed with or followed by rain, freezing rain or sleet.

Keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice is the neighborly and safe thing to do in winter. In the City of Minneapolis apartment and commercial building property owners must clear sidewalks after the end of a snowfall within four daytime hours; in St. Paul property owners have 24 hours to remove snow.

According to Troy Norberg, General Manager for Tru-Serve, a Twin Cities facilities maintenance services company, “Apartment, commercial and nonprofit building owners are better off removing snow immediately to avoid problems later, especially when rain and heavy snow is involved.”

Slip-and-fall accidents can be common during the winter months. Thorough snow removal can help in preventing such accidents, but ongoing maintenance to keep sidewalks and steps dry will help reduce the liability property owners could face.

Norberg has seen all levels of quality and quantity when it comes to snow removal and he advices Tru-Serve customers to call immediately to remove snow from their properties.

Tips for Snow Removal

  • The sooner snow is removed the less likely ice will form
  • Shovel snow from sidewalks on all side of the property
  • Shovel the full width of the sidewalk
  • Shovel to the concrete and remove all ice
  • Use salt to melt the ice, if necessary and maintain updated salt logs (i.e. location, date, time, etc.)
  • Once the sidewalk is cleared, sprinkling a little sand can help prevent slipping
  • Shovel around garbage cans and recycling bins
  • Pile snow on the property rather than in the street or the alley
  • Use the proper snow removal equipment to avoid back injuries
  • Arrange for snow removal during planned vacations

Norberg recommends keeping sidewalks clear throughout the winter to avoid complaints from residents, renters, and visitors. One complaint could lead to fines from the city and nearly every city has an ordinance declaring snow removal from sidewalks as the responsibility of the property owner, tenant, or both.

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Elise Schadauer
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