The ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) announced its accreditation program for the Accredited Snow Contractors Association's (ASCA) SN9001 program, clearing the way for professional snow and ice managers to begin the certification process.
ANAB, owned by the American National Standards Institute and the American Society for Quality, assesses and accredits management system certification bodies that demonstrate competence to audit and certify organizations conforming to management system standards.
For the last year and a half, the ASCA took action to create and develop an accreditation program for SN9001, a quality management system specifically for the professional snow and ice management industry.
This is a watershed moment for the association, says ASCA Executive Director Kevin Gilbride. Two years ago, while investigating the problem of insurance on professional snow and ice management companies, the ASCA gained perspective on how the outside world viewed the professional snow and ice industry.
"Plaintiff’s attorneys see our industry as a feeding frenzy due to the ease in which they can sue our industry members and get quick settlements, or even large payouts on often baseless slip-and-fall lawsuits," Gilbride says. "Of course, this flows down to the insurance companies, who in turn increase premiums to cover these losses. As a result, many carriers have simply walked away from insuring professional snow and ice management companies."
One key factor in initiating the creation of SN9001 is the fact that more than 50% of slip-and-fall claims filed are lost or settled due to lack of documentation.
ASCA’s focus on improving this situation brought it to ANAB, who offers accreditation programs such as 9001 in many industries, Gilbride says. Other industries with programs similar to SN9001 that ANAB offers accreditation to include aerospace, body armor, food safety, recycling, forestry and energy.
In the professional snow and ice management industry, contractors will have both an ISO9001 and SN9001 audit, Gilbride says.
"This is an independent (from ASCA) third party you will hire to audit your processes and procedures," he says. "The audit for ISO 9001 focuses on processes and procedures to ensure service quality, as well processes and procedures for continual improvement. The SN9001 portion of the audit focuses on the Industry Standards including auditing your training records, pre-season inspection reports, in-event documentation, post event processes, and weather service reporting."
Together, these certifications prove a professional snow and ice manager has the systems in place to provide the service you have contracted to provide, and do so in a manner which stands up to the highest standards, Gilbride adds.
"To the plaintiff’s attorneys, certification sends a message that if you are going to file a lawsuit against an SN9001 (includin ISO 9001) company, you will know in advance that they have their documentation in order," he says. "This forces that plaintiff’s attorneys to make a business decision."
"This certification is the next step in getting the insurance industry to look differently at this industry, and influence fair insurance premiums for snow and ice contractors," Gilbride says.
"This is an ongoing and continual process for the ASCA to improve this industry," Gilbride says. "It start with establishing the first written industry standards and providing education to ensure ASCA members were educated and proficient on these standards (ASCA Certified status).Then, we provided a mechanism (SN9001, including ISO 9001) to verify that a company has implemented the Industry Standards.
"Finally, we will continue our quest to improve the legislative issues that face this industry," he adds. "In the end, this is a process that we have aggressively pursued. In just over a year, we have made great strides."
The following certification bodies have indicated their intent to become accredited by ANAB to offer certification for SN 9001:
(click on their names for more information)