Ice Melt Do’s and Dont’s For Facility Managers

December 21, 2019

Ice melt products should be in full use in your entryways in your facility during the winter months. It can be challenging cleaning up tracked-in dirt, snow, salt and water. Winter weather is exceptionally challenging because of the many winter hazards that can result in slips and falls.

Ice melt products can help you as the facility manager to keep your building safe for the guests and employees that enter and exit daily. Here are some of the top mistakes in how ice melt products get used in the workplace.

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winterscene snow chaos in the streets

#1 Mistake: Not Using Anything

Whether you are trying to save money or time your staff may opt to not use any ice melt on the slippery walkways and entryways leading into your building. This could be a very expensive mistake!

“Ice melt plays a major role in preventing slip-and-fall accidents because it rids surfaces of ice,” says Kevin Wice, president of XYNYTH Manufacturing Corp. in British Columbia, Canada. “Falls represent a huge liability issue in many states and provinces, as many regulatory bodies have legislation that requires a business to take some action to prevent people from slipping and falling. By doing nothing, business owners open themselves up to legal action.”

When a storm like freezing rain or heavy snow dumps onto your location, managers need to put ice melt and sand down in the parking lots, walkways and entryways after they have been cleared. Underneath the snow is a dangerous layer of ice. You won’t see it, but at the very last second as you step onto that surface and roll an ankle and break it.

That thin layer of dusting may be deceiving and not slippery, but beware. Even the smallest amount of snow can lead to very slippery conditions. Some managers will use ice melt during and after the storm to keep the ice at bay.

“Good snow and ice control is definitely a large part of slip-and-fall prevention,” says George D. Lutz, quality assurance technical services manager for Cargill, headquartered in Minnetonka, Minn. “One slip-and-fall accident buys an awful lot of ice melt.”

#2 Mistake: Using To Much Ice Melt

All to often cleaners think that a little ice melt doesn’t do a good enough job, that a lot is needed to get the job done. According to manufacturers, less is usually more when it comes to ice melt. Overusing ice melt, salt and sand can lead to tracking debris into the facility. It can also destroy the vegetation around your walkways and parking lots.

“Excessive application rates do not improve performance,” says Greg MacDonnell, senior marketing manager for The Dow Chemical Company, headquartered in Midland, Mich.

Many manufacturers recommend applying ice melt using hand fertilizer spreader for small areas or a walk-behind spreader for larger areas. Scoops and shovels most of the time cause over use. The goal is to spread ice melt evenly.

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#3 Applying Ice Melt Wrong

Reading the instructions is a great first step if you are not familiar with how ice melt works. When using a calcium or magnesium chloride product, it is important to use gloves. Using ice melt is not recommended on your roof and rock salt will eventually find its way into the water system.

Instructions on most of these products will tell you that putting any type of ice melt on 5-10 inches of snow or ice won’t work. Ice melt works best when most of the snow or ice has been removed. The goal of ice melt is to remove and prevent ice from freezing and building up on the ground.

“Pre-application is ideal as an initial deterrent before the snow falls, though it is often difficult to predict necessity,” says Todd Spencer, national sales manager, jan/san, for North American Salt Company, headquartered in Overland Park, Kan. “If you are certain a storm is coming, getting the ice melt down first can have a huge impact on the ice and snow removal and ice melt application cycle.”

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