Snow Removal

Q: During the winter season how much time would a surveyor give us to remove all snow from the exit discharge leads out of the hospital? Since it could be snowing all day and overnight as well, and we only have so much time and man-power, what will a surveyor expect?

A: This is a great question. I have never seen anything in writing from an authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) as to how quickly they expect snow to be removed during and after a storm. It is my perception that they would not expect the snow to be removed continuously during a snow storm, but perhaps at least once during a storm and then as soon as the storm is over. But how soon after the storm is over? You get to decide since the AHJs do not state in writing what their expectations are. But it needs to be reasonable, and I would say we are talking about an hour or two after the storm is over. In other words, if you wait more than two hours to remove snow from the exit discharge, that may be considered too long by some AHJs.

Many hospitals do clear the exit discharge a couple of times during the storm and then do a final clearing after the storm is over. If you wait more than a couple of hours to do the final clearing, then safe egress from the facility may be considered to be impaired. It is all very subjective and up to the individual surveyor. If you are making a good effort during a storm and a surveyor happens to be present, I suspect he/she will be lenient and understand that you are doing everything possible. If they are not lenient, and you believe they are too restrictive in their interpretation, you can always call the AHJ central office and ask their standards interpretation staff for a ruling.