Fact from fiction

Columns - Director's Note

October 22, 2015


Kevin Gilbride


The Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) launched four years ago to address the serious issues not being acted upon in the professional snow and ice management industry. In fact, issues such as industry standards, reasonable insurance rates, and legislative initiatives were the same ones the Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA) was unable to accomplish, for whatever reason.

However, the ASCA attacked these issues head on and were extremely successful in achieving tangible, forward progress on a number of these fronts. In fact, it is part of the ASCA’s mandate to do so.

Now it seems SIMA is singing an entirely different tune.

Recently, SIMA has expressed interest in pursuing legislative initiatives. And to its credit, that group has gotten behind the Simplifying Technical Aspects Regarding Seasonality Act of 2015 (STARS Act), which, in a nutshell, would amend the Internal Revenue Code to exempt seasonal employees from the definition of “full-time employee” for purposes of the employer mandate to provide employees with minimum essential health care coverage.

However, the fact is the ASCA has visited your elected representatives in D.C. on multiple occasions over the last four years and has successfully lobbied — on your behalf — in support of the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act. Passed in the House last month, we are now actively lobbying for its support in the Senate.

Closer to home, the ASCA, to date, has gotten legislation introduced in six states, with more on the way. This legislation would limit liability transfer (hold-harmless agreements) from owners to contractors. The ASCA will get this passed.

In the past, SIMA’s leadership expressed little interest in establishing official Industry Standards. However, recently that group released a glossary of industry terms, and in it they claim they are a standards development organization.

The fact is, SIMA is not accredited to do so, unlike the ASCA which received ANSI accreditation to develop official industry standards. Furthermore, ANSI allows only one standards organization in an industry, therefore SIMA’s claims that it is a standards development organization are not credible. Now consider the problems with one of SIMA’s unofficial definitions:

SIMA defines “zero tolerance” as: A level of Service that typically requires bare pavement or minimal accumulation at all times.

The ANSI/ASCA System requirements for Snow and Ice Management Services (Industry Standards) definition of zero tolerance is: Zero tolerance. A common term that is used in the snow and ice management industry that is not a realistic or reasonable property condition (also referred to as a “Slip-Free Environment” or “Slip-Free Condition”). It is impossible to achieve bare and wet pavement at all times under all conditions. True “zero tolerance” is an unrealistic expectation, as is a snow free environment. Those tasked with snow and ice management on any given site with a zero-tolerance parameter should strive to achieve “bare and wet” conditions on pavement and sidewalk surfaces. There is no set “trigger depth” for starting services when zero tolerance is specified and it is normally expected that service providers will start servicing with a pretreatment, and continue service as the snowfall begins, and throughout the snow event.

Which definition would you want used in the court of law for you? I ask you, how is SIMA serving its membership?

Finally, consider the fact that SIMA has funded the Sustainable Salt Initiative, a Canadian-based study aimed at regulating salt usage, including recalibrating from storm to storm and from property to property. Think about it… regulating your ability to manage ice by dictating the amount of salt you can use on a client’s property will lead to slip-and-fall claims… which you will lose.

The ASCA never intended to compete with SIMA on industry issues. Rather, SIMA has chosen to compete with the ASCA to silence voices from within its own membership questioning the association’s glacial pace toward industry action. By doing so SIMA has set in motion actions that could result in dire consequences for your business and the industry. I encourage you to challenge SIMA’s leadership about its recent actions, and question whether its short-term efforts to be perceived as proactive are worth your viability in the long term.

Our message is simple and has not wavered since day one: Join the ASCA. We’re working for you, not against you.


Email me @ kgilbride@gie.net