Health and Safety – Myth of the Month
Welcome to ‘Myth of the Month’ – a new feature where our expert Health Safety, Security and Fire (HSSF) team attempts to break down some of the common misconceptions about safety restrictions at work
Snow and ice removal – by Dan Hutley (HSSF Area Manager, South West)
“NHSPS staff are not allowed to clear snow and ice.”
Given the recent spell of weather, you’d be forgiven for thinking that snow and ice are off the agenda. But this is January and you never know when things could turn. Therefore, it’s best to be prepared and clued up as to what to do, should the worst happen.
Every winter, HSSF teams are asked whether we should be clearing ice and snow from our sites and whose fault is it, if someone falls over? People are worried about blame and the myth still exists that we could be sued if an incident occurs.
Last winter, the Minister for Health and Safety Lord Freud put the record straight:
“People need to be aware that they will not be reprimanded for doing a good deed by clearing ice and snow. The truth is very simple: you can clear ice and snow from footpaths and pavements but always be careful that you don’t put yourself in danger”.
“Countless lives have been saved and injuries prevented because of robust health and safety practices. But bogus excuses give real safety laws a bad name and stop people from taking action”.
I think that says it all. We do have a legal duty to ensure that our sites are safe for our staff, our tenants and visitors and we should take action to make that happen.
The test is whether we have taken reasonable care and taken sensible steps. Every site should have local arrangements for the clearance of snow and ice. These arrangements will vary widely across our estate, from places where the sole tenant takes full responsibility for snow and ice clearance, to others where we provide a clearance service in specified areas.
The government has produced some sensible guidance and this site provides more information should you need it: https://www.gov.uk/clear-snow-road-path-cycleway