Audit Services

The Smart About Salt Council (SASC) is grateful to the Government of Ontario for providing funding assistance to help in the development of an appropriate verification program to assist the certification and accreditation efforts of winter maintenance contractors, facility owners/operators and others, to help SASC continue to update our award-winning education programs and to facilitate dialogue between all those that have an interest in safety, winter maintenance practices and the environment.

SASC's Efforts to Develop a Relevant Verifcation Progam Summarized

1. Retaining a Consultant

Using tested and preferred procurement practices a request for proposals (RFP) document was crafted and distributed using MERX: Canada's electronic tendering service. As a result, the services of WSP Canada Group was retained. WSP Global Inc. is a Canadian business providing management and consultancy services to the built and natural environment. It is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:WSP).

2. Jurisdictional Scan

A jurisdictional scan was conducted through a combination of an Internet search, LISTSERV query, and telephone interviews. The intent was to locate programs similar to SASC and investigate their verification and auditing methods. The search was limited to North America to maintain a relevance in regards to snow and ice conditions, road and parking lot infrastructure, and legislative culture. For this reason, programs in Europe were not included. 

The internet search was conducted by referencing known portals of winter maintenance information, such as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and the Transportation Research Board (TRB). The search was then widened to include commercial pages, program websites, and government databases. The focus was on finding and investigating road salt application certification projects and their training, verification, and accreditation processes. Materials consulted included academic papers, training presentation documents, news articles, and web pages. LISTSERV is a software application which distributes messages to subscribers on an electronic mailing list. For this project, a query was posed on the SNOW-ICE list serve which focuses on communication between winter maintenance professionals. The responses were considered through the context of the scope and intent of the project and were investigated accordingly.  From the above, organizational representatives were identified and telephoned to provide clarity/expand on their online information. 

The results of the jurisdictional scan are shared here: WSP Verification Protocol Development Task 1 Jurisdictional Review DRAFT 29MAY18.pdf

3. A Framework for Program Verification

Working with professional consultants, a verification program has been drafted and a discussion document shared broadly with winter maintenance industry stakeholders. The verification protocol was grounded in by the knowledge obtained through the completion of the jurisdictional scan and considered:

i.             Existing SASC training and certification programs;

ii.            The resource limitations of winter maintenance contractors and others;

iii.           General safety requirements;

iv.           Leading practices that might address liability concerns and other issues;

v.            Procedures necessary to verify the use of SASC training;

vi.           The need for reporting;

vii.          Performance metrics program verification such as: Calibration, pre-wetting, the percentage of employees that are trained in leading practices in winter maintenance, the percentage of supervisors that are trained in leading practices in winter maintenance, the percentage of automatic controllers being used, the use of advanced snow plow blades and equipment, the use in winter maintenance operations of temperature sensing equipment, sand and direct liquid application, the use of low or non-salt products, the challenges resulting from significant winter storm events,  the actual amounts of de-icing products used with emphasis on salt products (chlorides), use of shared liability contracts, etc.; and,

viii.         Defined reporting requirements and how they are to be recorded. Consideration has been given to the number and frequency of complaints, the number and frequency of audits, the findings against leading practices, teachings, and certification standards of the SASC.

4. Summary of Findings

  • 1.      To the best of our knowledge, development of the verification protocol is an international and industry first.
  • 2.      The project confirmed the premise that a verification surrounding the use of best practices in winter maintenance is helpful in continuing to strive for a reduction in the over-application of chlorides as a result of poor winter maintenance practices. Indeed, recent studies confirm that there is a so-called “goldilocks” point at which salt (typically sodium chloride) and other products are effective and maintain safety: Too little and safety is compromised, but too much also have both negative environmental consequences and diminish safety efforts.
  • 3.      Winter maintenance contractors ‘bristled’ at the language of a “program audit”. Additionally, communications had to be exceptionally explicit in the messaging and information requested. For example, on several occasions when records which substantiate reported service areas and de-icing products used winter maintenance contractors conflated the request to seek confidential contract documents.
  • 4.      In the majority, those documents submitted to SASC as part of the project seemed to confirm reported salt usage.
  • 5.      These knowledge and sophistication of those that participated in the in-field audits differed widely and as a result no commonalities were apparent beyond the fact that each and every one could, to varying degrees, continue to improve their operations evolving to fully best management practices.

The Final Report in both English and French is provided below:

Final Report 20200327v6.1.pdf

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