Winter Weather – Don’t slip up this winter

Winter weather can be the cause of many accidents – Don’t slip up this winter. Accidents involving slips & trips tend to peak in the autumn and winter due to:

  • reduced daylight
  • cold winter weather spells causing ice and snow to build up on paths

winter weather

Every year the snow and ice that covers the country receives national media coverage. Local press attention goes to the most personal cases associated with injuries that people suffer as a result of falls. Some of these injuries may result in claims for damages through the courts.

Protect your business – regardless of the size of your site, always ensure that issues affecting access routes are tackled promptly.

Winter Weather: let us correct some misconceptions

By taking steps to clear or grit a pathway to prevent an accident occurring, you are not accepting responsibility for any slips or trips that may occur on your premises. Equally, if you do not clear the ice and snow then you can be held liable for injuries that occur.

You should take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of an accident occurring, also reducing your chances of being successfully sued for any accident that does occur.

Simple Winter Weather procedures for smaller areas

Clear a pedestrian access route pathway of at least 1 metre wide to allow access for pedestrians, pushchairs and wheelchair users. Snow and ice should be completely removed using suitable equipment (e.g. snow shovels).

Never brush snow and ice or melt it with hot water.

Do grit the pathway after clearing it to prevent ice reforming and to provide additional grip. Take extra care when clearing sloping pathways and steps.

winter weather clearing

What about bigger areas?

You can use a similar process for clearing bigger areas, such as car parks, playgrounds, etc. It requires greater manpower to clear bigger areas effectively and in a reasonable timescale. In this case, snow clearing machinery (such as snow ploughs, snow blowers, etc.) should be used and then the area should be gritted.

Alternatively, commission the services a professional contractor to do the snow clearing for you.

Contractors must be competent

Getting professional help can allow you to can concentrate on teaching, but any contractor you appoint to clear snow and ice for you must be competent. You can appoint someone to do the work for you, but you cannot give away your responsibilities.


The most common method used to make roads and pathways safe is gritting. It is relatively cheap, quick to apply and easy to spread. Rock salt is the most commonly used ‘grit’ and is the substance used on public roads by the highways authority.

Gritting should be carried out when frost, ice or snow is forecast or when walkways are likely to be damp or wet, and the floor temperatures are at (or below) freezing. The best times are early in the evening before the frost settles and early in the morning before people arrive. Salt doesn’t work instantly; it needs sufficient time to dissolve into the moisture on the floor.

Avoid gritting during heavy rain as the salt will be washed away. Compacted snow, which turns to ice, is difficult to treat effectively with grit.

Be aware that ‘dawn frost’ can occur on dry surfaces, when early morning dew forms and freezes on impact with the cold surface. These are difficult to predict.

Simple Steps for Winter Weather

  • Develop a policy, based on risk assessment, for dealing with snow and ice
  • Make suitable arrangements in advance – appoint a competent contractor now, or provide your staff with the right equipment, materials and training
  • Clear snow and ice from roads and pathways at your business
  • Clear snow and ice from steep slopes and steps
  • Avoid making pathways more dangerous – don’t allow them to refreeze
  • Prioritise important and well-used routes over lesser used routes
  • Clear a 1 m wide access route on pathways
  • Apply grit or salt to keep roads and pathways from freezing
  • Check the site to ensure that roads and pathways remain clear where temperatures remain below freezing
  • Consider the needs of all employees, customers, and visitors, including disabled and elderly persons
  • Ensure that adequate equipment and human resource is available to clear snow and ice

Don’t be taken in by the winter weather myths

Despite newspaper stories, there are no health and safety regulations that prevent people from clearing snow at their premises. Don’t let winter weather adversely affect your business.


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