Planning for Safety in Response to Rock Salt Shortage

Private snow and ice removal contractors may have difficulty securing salt, and higher prices are inevitable.

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A shortage in salt supplies has landscape and snow removal professionals making plans to help their customers weather the upcoming winter season safely. The salt inventory shortage affects the eastern United States, as well as Ontario.

Salt is the most widely used tool for managing snow and ice on roads, parking lots and sidewalks. Supplies are very low due to a number of factors: a summer strike at the world's largest salt mine in Goderich, Ontario, reduced capacity at another important mine and depleted stockpiles after the late spring ice storm of 2018.

Salt producers are allocating scarce supplies to municipalities first. Private snow and ice removal contractors are having difficulty securing salt to service customer properties, and higher prices are inevitable. There is a scramble to secure a supply of salt from other continents. Rock salt being imported from other areas within North America and overseas may help, but may not make up the current shortfalls in inventory. Depending on the severity of the winter, existing inventories may likely be depleted quickly, meaning no salt for some contractors.

Property owners and managers should work with their contractor to plan ways to deal with this inventory shortage.

With safety first in mind, Landscape Ontario member contractors are approaching this challenge with a multi-pronged strategy involving both technology and best-management practices. This approach includes enhanced documentation and equipment calibration to use salt as efficiently and effectively as possible, and working with clients to eliminate nonessential areas from service in order to conserve salt supplies.

Some contractors are asking customers to pre-pay for salt to secure inventory. Ice- and snow-fighting products not based on salt are also part of the arsenal. Training is another important part of their professional approach to the crisis—contractors are briefing their teams on the situation today and honing skills to promote top efficiency in snow fighting.

Cooperative strategies are the key to safety during this shortage, and Landscape Ontario snow and ice removal contractors are working hard to minimize their clients' risks during the upcoming winter season.