Cold Weather Advisory – Icy Paths

As we further make our way through the great British winter, a common question which arises is that of what organisations are required to do to keep footpaths clear of snow and ice.

The main relevant legal requirement comes under reg. 12 of the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992, and states that “so far as is reasonably practicable, the surface of every traffic route in a workplace shall be kept free from any article or substance which may cause a person to slip, trip or fall.”

The accompanying Approved Code Of Practice further states that “Arrangements should be made to minimise risks from snow and ice. This may involve gritting”

So how far does an organisation’s duty go, within reasonably practicable limits?  Well, recent cases go some way to answering this question, for example for a building where there are numerous external areas which may be icy, it would be considered reasonably practicable to clear the areas which are used most often, and less priority may be given to areas which are avoidable.

Frequency of gritting would usually be acceptable twice a day – once early in the morning, then once more in late afternoon / early evening.

In conclusion, best advice to organisations is to ensure that the most commonly or essentially used pathways under their control are gritted twice a day during icy conditions. It is also a good idea to display warning signage, advising of slippery surfaces, and to exercise caution.