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Questions To Ask Your Commercial Snow Removal Company

Winter brings us a snowy wonderland that may look beautiful, but can create a lot problems. If you’re stuck shovelling on your own, you could find yourself shivering outside for hours clearing your driveway and steps. Plus, you risk back and arm injuries, not to mention catching a cold. For these reasons and more, many people turn to a commercial snow removal company to clear away mother nature’s debris.

Questions To Ask Your Snow Removal Company

If you’re looking for a commercial snow removal operation to take care of shovelling and clearing, you should do your research before settling on a company. Ask around to see which companies other local businesses use, and read online testimonials if possible. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few snow removal companies, give them a call and ask the following questions. The answers will determine if they’re the right commercial snow removal company for you.

Do you have insurance?

Any reputable commercial snow removal company will have general liability insurance. Moreover, they should also have a workers compensation program in place for their employees. If something happens on your property that is out of anyone’s control, the snow removal business must be covered. You must be covered as well, so contact your insurance provider and make sure that your house insurance includes accidents related to snow removal (it probably does but it’s better to be safe than sorry).

What services does your company provide besides commercial snow removal?

Snowfalls come in all shapes and sizes. Does the snow removal company have other services in place to deal with the different conditions associated with snowfalls? For instance, will they salt the area as needed? Will they haul the snow away if the accumulation is too great? Will they provide a shovelling service to clear walkways and maintain your safety? Most snow removal businesses will provide these additional services. If the company you are speaking with does not, move on to another one.

Will you be assessing my property before the first snowfall?

Any company that refuses to visit your site before taking you on as a client is not one you should work with. There is ample planning that must go into snow removal and any company that is willing to wait until the first snowfall before assessing your home and street shouldn’t be considered for the task of snow removal.

Are you in good standing with the Better Business Bureau?

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Canada is an organization that holds companies accountable and provides consumers with trust. If the commercial snow removal company you are considering isn’t in good standing with the BBB, move on.

What kind of equipment will be used?

A regular truck is not going to do the job of commercial snow removal. In order to ensure the company you are looking into has the right equipment for the job, make sure they use high-grade snow removal equipment like skid steers, plows, pushers and front-end loaders.

How many clients do you currently have?

This questions ties in to the one above. A snow removal business that has forty clients should have the equipment and manpower to service each one in a timely manner. If the company only has two trucks and forty clients then your needs will not be met and you’ll be waiting for hours for your snow removal service. Make sure that the commercial snow removal company you choose has enough equipment and employees to deal with each of their clients properly.

When do you get to work?

Any reputable snow removal business will get to work as soon as there’s a centimetre of accumulation. Companies that wait any longer before starting their snow removal process are putting you at risk. Black ice can form quickly, leaving you with a greater chance of someone slipping or skidding and increasing the likelihood of collisions on your property.

Do you work with any subcontractors?

A worthy snow removal operation will not use subcontractors. If they do, then consider everything they told you about equipment, insurance and manpower meaningless, because a subcontractor could operate within their own set of rules that have no bearing on the company you have agreed to do with business with.

How much do you charge for your services?

Ideally, you will find a commercial snow removal company that charges a flat-rate for the season and not per snowfall. It’s easier to sign a contract for the winter at a fixed price then to be billed after each snowfall. If you live in a place that receives constant accumulation this can quickly exceed your budget and take a toll on your finances.

Do you have a dispatcher to respond to emergencies?

Snow doesn’t always fall on command, and ice build-up and other problems can arise without snow even falling, which is why you want a removal company that is available 24/7. Any company that does not employ a dispatcher for emergencies isn’t one you want to work with.

Any Canadian city will be hit with more than one snowfall during the winter months. It’s important to find a commercial snow removal company that you trust, and that will be attendant to your needs.

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Tips For Booking A Commercial Snow Removal Service

Winter is just around the corner again and that means snow, lots of it. This is usually a busy time for snow removal companies, so booking one might not be as easy as you think if there is high demand. Also, there are things you should look for and questions you should ask before signing the dotted line with any snow removal company. It will save you a headache and money later on. Some of the things you should look for include the specific services they provide, reviews from previous clients, their equipment as well as insurance.

Commercial Snow Removal

Insurance Coverage

Some smaller contractors can’t afford the adequate insurance that is required of snow removal companies. While this can enable them to offer you a competitive rate, the downside is that there is little or no coverage in the event of an accident or claim. Contractors should have at least $5,000,000 in coverage and include a “snow removal” rider in the coverage. Ask the prospective contractor for a WSIB clearance certificate before negotiating services.

Pricing

Even though a contractor might offer you an attractive price up front, be careful of additional costs that come after. The contractor can make additional charges that were not covered in the contract, so make sure to look at the details before you sign. While contractors should not be outrageously expensive, don’t be fooled by very low prices either. Also, find out exactly how much is being charged for what service. Also, do they charge by the hour or by the project? If it is by the hour how soon can they do the job?

Accessibility

A snow removal contractor should be accessible. Even if the contractor himself is not available to take your call, there should be someone at the office you can speak to. This helps to facilitate trust with the customer and it helps handle any issues that might have come up. If the company does not have a physical address, then you should probably steer clear of it. Any professional contractor should have a physical address that can be found.

Staff

What kind of staff does the snow contractor hire? Is it full-time staff or part-time? How experienced is the staff? These are factors that could determine the level of service you are likely to receive. Don’t be afraid to ask the contractor these questions. If there is a website, check it to find out more or make a phone-call if there is an office.

Equipment

The equipment is probably one of the most important things you should consider. The type of equipment the contractor uses will determine the cost and quality of the service. Plow trucks tend to break down frequently, and this can affect the contractor’s ability to carry out the promised service. Ask if the contractor has backup equipment or if they are relying on just one vehicle. Although the best equipment can mean a higher price, it is worth paying knowing that you will receive the best possible service.

Reviews

Talk to previous clients of your contractor or look for reviews online. This is one of the best ways to know what you might be getting for your money. Ask friends or neighbours who they are using. The best contractors often get marketed by word of mouth. Hopefully the reviewers should not have a vested interest in recommending the contractor. They can tell you the specific things that you need to know.

Call Many Companies

Call at least three companies of a similar size and compare. Don’t go with the first company that is available, shop around a bit. Sometimes you might be able to get some discounts or special offers. There are many companies offering this service, so you don’t have to go with the first one that you come across. Snow removal companies vary in size, quality of service and cost. It is only by doing a little research you can come up with a shortlist of the best ones to hire that are within your budget.

Read The Contract

Read the contract thoroughly before you sign and make sure there are no surprises. The contract is going to be the first point of reference for anything, so be sure to read the details. Verbal agreement is not enough; you should always have everything documented in writing.

Snow removal is necessary but it doesn’t have to be costly. The best way to protect yourself is to gather as much information as possible about the company and the services it offers. Always read the contract and shop around. If you would like more information about snow removal, or you are thinking about buying equipment, then give us a call or browse our website to look at our catalogue. Best of all, come visit us! With the right services you don’t have to worry about the winter.

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Ergonomic Snow Removal Techniques

Shovelling snow is never fun, but it doesn’t have to be a strain on your body. You can shovel snow without hurting your back if you use the right equipment and the right techniques. Whether you are going high tech or low tech, snow removal can be a lot easier than you might think. Here are a few ergonomic snow removal techniques that are worth trying for this coming winter season.

Ergonomic Snow Removal

Use A Snow Blower

The snow blower is as easy as it gets when it comes to removing snow. It is great for those who have back problems or other conditions that prevent them from removing snow manually. It is great for clearing away dense, compacted snow and has a chute from which the snow can be expelled.

Types Of Snow Blowers

Snow Blowers come in two types: single-stage and two-stage. Single-stage snow blowers both move the snow into the machine and expel it. They are more suitable for suburban homes and neighbourhood sidewalks. Two-stage snow blowers remove snow in two distinct phases: the first phase involves breaking up the snow before sucking it into the impeller and then blowing it out the shoot. This machine is more suitable for heavy-duty snow removal, such as snow that is more than a foot high.

Use An Electric Shovel

An electric shovel is a good alternative to a conventional shovel or snow blower. They are lightweight, efficient and easy to use. You don’t have to have strong arms to use them and even if you do, they won’t be tested as with a regular shovel. Electric shovels are also great for people with disabilities and seniors. Compared to snow blowers, they are easier to maintain and do not require fuel. Shovels come in various sizes, so pick one that suits your own size, budget and physical ability.

Push The Snow

It is easier to push snow than to lift it. For pushing to be effective you need to use a shove that is as wide as possible. Preferably it should be made out of plastic and not heavier materials like wood or metal. If you are creating a large pile of snow, then make sure it is not a great distance from you.

Work With Your Knees And Not Your Back

When pushing or lifting snow, you should bend your knees and keep your back straight. If you aren’t sure if you are lifting correctly, see if you can feel the weight on your knees. That said, you shouldn’t put pressure on your knees if they are in a bad condition. Shovel snow only if you are in a relatively fit condition.

Take Breaks In Between

When removing snow, take short, frequent breaks to give your body the maximum energy to keep going. By resting frequently you can get more done over a longer period of time and without the risk of injury.

Warm Up

Stay warm without overheating. The cold is going to make your muscles tight, and this could increase your risk of injury if you don’t warm up beforehand. It doesn’t have to be anything lengthy, but just enough to get the blood flowing. Also, make sure that you don’t have on too many layers, because movement will naturally make you warmer. You can risk sweating if you do, and this could make you colder because of moisture. Also, keep hydrated. Just because it is cold doesn’t mean that you don’t need water.

Turn Your Whole Body

Try not to twist your body, instead turn your whole body when you are throwing snow. Twisting your body can cause unnecessary strain and increase your risk of injury. Work within your limit and do not overextend yourself.

Use A Good Shovel

Shovels have various shapes and sizes. If you like pushing snow, it is better to use a longer shovel. If you are lifting snow, use a shovel with a shorter handle. Be sure that the handle fits your hands to avoid unnecessary injury or strain. Deeply curved shovels are especially suited for removing a lot of snow.

Whether you decide to go high tech or traditional, snow removal doesn’t have to be as difficult as it first appears. While it will never be one of the most fun things to do in winter, it doesn’t have to be something that is risky. Use the right shovel in accordance with your physical state and practise good techniques. If you cannot remove snow at all, then you can enlist the help of a friend or hire a snow removal company. They can remove your snow efficiently for a reasonable fee. If you would like to find out more about snow removal techniques or equipment, give us a call or visit our website for products and information. Our staff will be happy to help you find something that suits your needs.

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11 Essential Safety Tips For Proper Snow Removal

It’s soon going to be that time of year again; people will soon be swapping their T-shirts and flip flops for heavy coats and winter boots. And instead of hiking or swimming, they will have to be shovelling snow. Removing snow from your home is not the most fun activity, but it is a necessary one— it can also be a dangerous one if it is not done correctly. Shovelling snow is not an activity that should be taken lightly and the number of injuries and hospitalizations related to this activity can attest to that. If you keep the following safety tips in mind, you can keep your home snow free without risking injury.

Safety Tips For Proper Snow Removal

  1. Shovel Only When You Can
  2. While shovelling snow is considered to be a neighbourly gesture, it is not something you should force yourself to do if you are not physically able. If you are easily prone to injury or you have a physical condition that impedes you from performing this task, refrain from doing it. If possible, hire a snow-removal service company to do the job.

  3. Pick the Right Shovel
  4. Pick the right shovel for the job and for your size. If you use a shovel that is too big or too small for you, you risk injuring yourself due to strain or bad posture. As a general rule, snow shovels should be lightweight and the spade not too large.

  5. Dress Appropriately
  6. Dress warmly when you go outside to shovel snow. But if you are going to be shovelling a lot of snow, don’t overdress, as you might find yourself overheating from the strenuous activity. Dress as you would if you were jogging in the cold. Wear boots that offer good traction when working in snow.

  7. Warm Up
  8. As you would before exercise, warm up your muscles. This can help you prevent injuries later on. Also do a bit of stretching if you can.

  9. Push Instead of Lifting
  10. When you are shovelling snow it is always easier to push instead of lifting snow. Lifting snow puts more strain on your body and is less efficient. To avoid lifting, make sure the pile of snow you are creating is within a short distance (not more than a few feet).

  11. Pace Yourself
  12. Don’t go too fast, instead go at a reasonable pace so that you don’t tire easily. Ideally, snow removal is an activity that should be done when you have the time (which is usually not before you go to work), but don’t try to overdo it.

  13. Drink Water
  14. When you’re cold, you are much less inclined to drink water. However, it is still important to stay hydrated even in winter (perhaps even more so), so drink plenty of water when you are engaging in any physical activity. Sports drinks are a good alternative.

  15. Bend Your Knees
  16. Always bend your knees when you are shovelling snow. Make sure the stress goes to your legs, rather than your back. Also, avoid twisting: point your entire body in the general direction of where you want to toss the snow (if you must toss).

  17. Choose the Right Chemicals
  18. There are chemicals that are available to help with snow removal. While they offer convenience, the downside is that they contain chemicals that pose a potential danger to you and/or your pets. Chloride is a common chemical in snow removal products and can irritate and even poison animals that come into contact with it. Use pet- or eco- friendly products instead.

  19. Watch for Ice
  20. Snow is not the only thing you have to worry about, ice presents just as much a problem—and you often won’t know until it is too late. Assume that the area is icy and take appropriate action, such as using salt. Of course, use environmentally friendly salt.

  21. Work From The Ground
  22. If you are attempting to remove snow from your roof, work from the ground. Keep clear of the area where the snow is expected to land and use an instrument that is long enough to allow you to maneuver safely.

Shovelling isn’t the most fun chore, but it can at least be a good workout if you do it safely. Like any other strenuous activity, safety is important. Stay warm, hydrated and practise good posture. Do not do more than what you are able to do and be especially safe when you are removing snow from the roof or if there is ice. If you would like any more advice on snow removal or snow removal products, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We can help you find the right tools to get the job done safely and efficiently. Browse our website or give us a call for a free consultation.

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Snow Removal Products And Practices That Are Safe For You And Your Pets

Winter is coming again and, naturally, people resort to known snow removal practices, often utilizing snow removal products. While these products might be effective against snow, they can also have a negative impact on your pets. The chemicals used in snow removal products are often harmful to plants and animals.

Snow Removal: Keeping Yourself And Your Pets Safe

There are safer products you can use, but the best way to remove snow is by doing it manually. It’s the only foolproof way of guaranteeing your pet’s safety while keeping snow off the path. Similarly, people tend to resort to old habits when shovelling snow, which may not be the safest ways. Read on for tips on preventing you and your pets from harm while removing snow effectively.

Pet-Safe Snow Removal Products:

Dogs and cats are generally sensitive to ice and cold, especially when their paws touch with ice. Snow removal products often contain chemicals that can irritate the skin in direct contact; they can also be poisonous if ingested. Additionally, salt between an animal’s paws can get pretty hot.

Dogs Naturally Magazine discusses some of the chemicals you should be aware of when looking for a pet-friendly product.

Chlorides

Chloride is by far the most dangerous chemical used in snow removal (it’s also the cheapest). All of the varieties of chloride should be avoided.

Calcium Magnesium Acetate

Although it’s a relatively safer ice melter, the drawback is that it is not very effective and it doesn’t last as long as other products. It’s still a toxic product and should be used with caution.

Modified Crystalline Carbonyl Diamide

This ingredient is one of the safer products. It can successfully absorb moisture without causing unwanted side effects.

Eco Safe Glycol

This ice melting chemical comes with traction agents and special inhibitors for added safety.

Colorants

If you are using colorants, make sure that they are food grade.

Ecotraction

This is an eco-friendly product that is being marketed by Ecotraction. According to the company’s website, the products is not only safe but good for the environment.

Finally, you might want to think about putting shoes on your pet. If you can find an appropriate size (and your dog takes to it) then this might be one of the safest ways to walk your dog in areas where the chemical is present.

Safe and Ergonomic Snow Shovelling

Sometimes it’s best to simply do it the old fashioned way: grab a shovel and just start digging. Of course, there is a safe way to do this. Removing snow is one of the leading causes of back injuries during the winter season. Here are some of the precautionary measures you should take:

Pick Your Shovel Wisely

Select a shovel with an adjustable handle. If you handle a shovel that is not appropriate for your size, you risk injuring yourself.

Loosen Your Muscles

Snow removal is hard work, so treat it like exercise. Warm up your muscles before you begin. This can be a brisk walk and/or a few stretches.

Push Rather Than Lift

Avoid lifting snow and carrying it across a distance. Instead, push the snow wherever you choose to pile it up.

Proper Lifting Techniques

  • Your body should always be facing the snow you are going to lift. Keep your shoulders square.
  • Bend your knees and make sure that the bulk of the weight falls on your knees rather than your back. (One way to know that you are lifting properly is if your legs are tired.)
  • Go for small amounts at a time rather than large amounts. It requires more stamina but it is safer than trying to do too much at one time.
  • Keep one hand on the handle and another as close to the blade as possible. This allows for the most efficient use of energy and strength.
  • Don’t attempt to toss the snow on the heap, walk instead—make sure you have the pile as close as possible. Use a wheelbarrow if you must, but don’t strain yourself trying to use feats of strength. If you must throw snow, then have you feet pointed in the direction you are tossing the snow.

Alternatives to Shovelling

If shovelling is a risky activity for you, you can use a snowblower. Another alternative is to hire a snow removal company. It might cost a little, but it is the most convenient thing to do­—just make sure that they use chemicals that are pet-friendly or none at all. You can book a snow removal service as early as possible. Check with the weather reports; if there is an impending snow storm then it is a good idea to book a service ahead of time.

You don’t have to use dangerous chemicals to remove snow effectively; there are safe alternatives if you take time to look for them. Avoid chloride in any snow removal product and take care to keep the ice and snow out of your pet’s paws. Likewise, look out for your back when shovelling—use our shovelling tips to avoid unnecessary strain. For more information about snow removal, don’t hesitate to contact us. Alternatively browse our website for a better look at our products.

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Snow Shoveling Ergonomics

Screen-shot-2009-12-14-at-2.50.56-PM-300x269There are a few things to remember when you are out in our climate

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