Too Good To Be True

Some useful insight about free online forms, and the latest research on a common deicing chemical. | adobe stock

If you look hard enough, you can find anything on the Internet, including copies of snow and ice management service contracts and documentation templates for any aspect of your business. However, do these free documents serve your best interests over the long term? Most likely not, says Josh Ferguson, attorney with the Philadelphia law office of Freeman Mathis & Gary LLP.

“Online templates can be a helpful start to see themes and important issues, but this does not replicate the knowledge legal counsel has to offer a business,” says Ferguson, who provides general counsel services for ASCA members, including contract review and negotiation, as well as slip-and-fall liability. “Frequently, these forms do not address the specific needs of the snow contractor, especially in the unique business of snow and ice management with liability and other risk potential.”

That said, these downloadable documents may originate from sketchy sources, Ferguson warns. “I know it’s cliché, but you get what you pay for and free is often times too good to be true,” he says. “In general, templates off of unknown websites pose issues as we are not sure when they were updated or who prepared same.

“What I often see is that contractors combine several different templates they find over the years, which leads to a disjointed and sometime conflicting contract,” Ferguson adds. “If there is conflicting language, then those terms will simply be thrown out [in a dispute].”

For more legal insight from Ferguson, check out The Snow Magazine Podcast, “The State of Slip And Fall” (

To discuss service contractors or other legal issues pertaining to snow and ice management, you can reach Ferguson at or 215/270-8086.

mbruxelle | adobe stock

Deicing Update

Magnesium chloride deicers used on roadways and bridges around the U.S. may be doing more damage than previously thought. Samples of concrete exposed to magnesium chloride in the laboratory with repeated freeze-and-thaw cycles lost more strength than samples exposed to rock salt – even though they showed no visual signs of damage.

For more information on Washington State University Professor Xianming Shi’s research, enter into your web browser.

Read Next

Doubling Down

May 2019
Explore the May 2019 Issue

Check out more from this issue and find you next story to read.

Share This Content