The rules surrounding accidents caused by snow and ice or trying to make safe such a situation are fairly confusing - so say the Shrewsbury health and safety experts at Salopian Health & Safety.
It is a myth that by not touching snow or ice you cannot be sued if someone was to slip over, but that trying to make conditions easier for pedestrians could leave you open to claims if someone subsequently has an accident.
On business premises, there is a duty to take reasonable care to ensure the safety of those using your land, especially as ice is the third most common cause of falls.
Therefore, you cannot be sued for making an area safer by clearing ice and snow, unless in exceptional circumstances.
For example, you make conditions worse by creating a sheer icy surface by pouring boiling water over the pavement and then walking away. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents states: "In public areas (e.g. the pavement outside a business), we would hope that shopkeepers/service providers etc. would show public spirit and a wish to make access to their premises easier by clearing snow and ice.
"When open, they are inviting people to visit them, so we would hope that this would be reflected by the clearing of pavements."
When clearing snow or ice remember:
• You must do a good job, and keep on top of the job (reacting to changing conditions). Members of the public must also remember that it is unrealistic to expect every stretch of pavement to be cleared and they should take their own reasonable precautions to avoid slipping or falling.
Have fun and stay safe this winter and for more advice on this or any other health and safety area, call Salopian Health & Safety Consultants on 01743 491561.
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