Snow and Ice: Contractor or In-House Staff

Snow and Ice: Contractor or In-House Staff   January 4, 2010

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media, with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is the advantages and disadvantages of contracting snow and ice removal activities.

An important decision related to snow and ice management is whether to use in-house employees or hire an outside contractor. Cost obviously is an important factor in the matter, but the true costs and savings related to any outsourcing are heavily debated and often hard to pin down.

    The potential advantages of using in-house staff include:
  • more control over crews and the timing of removal
  • possible cost savings, but only if crews receive proper training
  • no ability to transfer risk to a third party
  • no contracts to sign with a third party
  • and finally, no bidding procedures

    Among the potential disadvantages of using in-house staff are these:
  • the need for proper equipment and, more importantly, back-up equipment in case of failure
  • the need to buy de-icing or anti-icing materials in advance for at least part of the season to avoid running out mid-storm
  • the need to coordinate multiple crews
  • the need for proper training for operators and planning for snow and ice storms
  • the potential of property damage the organization is responsible for repairing
  • responsibility for monitoring the weather and determining whether the needed staff and equipment are ready
  • and lastly, potential added risk related to claims for slips and falls.


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