Hopefully the ice and snow is behind us for another year. Having had to defrost my car at the weekend, I am taking nothing for granted.
And neither should employers, after the recent Aberdeen Sheriff Court case of Anthony Davis v The University of Aberdeen.
Mr Davis was a porter employed by the University who slipped and fell on ice when delivering mail. The University had a procedure in place for the gritting of roads and footpaths. The locus had not been treated under the gritting procedure, but it was to be later that day.
Mr Davis’ case was based on the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 which provides that: “So far as reasonably practicable every floor in a workplace and every surface of every traffic route in a workplace shall be kept free from… any… substance which may cause a person to slip… or fall”
Although there was no criticism of the gritting regime per se, the court found that this was not enough for the University to escape liability. The University had not considered how to reduce the risk for those using the walkway whilst it was to be gritted; nor did they consider how to keep employees away from “ungritted” areas meantime. This seems a pretty harsh interpretation of the “reasonably practical” rule.
What are the lessons for employers and occupiers responsible for roads and walkways? Dig out those risk assessments and consider whether you need to address where people should avoid walking before all of areas are gritted or cleared. After all, you can’t grit everywhere at once.
On March 30, 2011