Custodial and Grounds collaboration improves snow removal

With campus activity lower than usual due to the pandemic, Custodial and Grounds Services took advantage of the opportunity to implement a change that had been years in the making: involving more custodians in clearing snow and ice.

Custodian Celetia Jackson salts an entryway at the Law School.

While custodians have always helped with snow removal, the new plan was for custodians to be solely responsible for the hand work at entryways. This model allows CGS to be more timely and efficient with snow removal by focusing additional effort on building entryways, which can be challenging to maintain.

To prepare, grounds specialists met with custodial supervisors to walk each general fund building to discuss the details of snow removal at every ramp, entryway, and set of steps. These areas were also clearly identified on maps. Collaborating to share this institutional knowledge was an important first step to this transition.

Snow removal involves using proper shoveling and salting techniques. Typically, this training is done in person during CGS’ annual snow rodeo training event. For a virtual approach, they put together a video introduction to winter maintenance and sent it to all 500 custodial staff. The video included proper shoveling posture to avoid injuries and salting rate instructions. 

Supervisors and managers have monitored progress and coached the custodians through every snow event. Grounds staff have communicated directly with custodians in many cases to identify areas where equipment routes and hand shoveling meet to ensure proper coverage.

As the end of winter approaches, CGS is starting to see the transition come together. As with any change, there is a learning curve. They are seeing improvements after every snow event. Moving forward, this shift represents the ability of custodial and grounds staff to implement positive changes for the long-term benefit of customers.