Even if a member of staff slips in the car park or in the entrance to the office, or if they work outside as part of their daily work, they still have no absolute right to damages. Unlike in countries such as Canada and Germany where deep snow fall is common, British businesses are not prepared for such weather and legally are not expected to roll out snowplows, gritters and offer snowshoes to employees. Employees must take responsibility for their own safety and exercise caution when requested to work in icy conditions. Here are some examples of when you could be responsible:
• The main entrance to work was icy and you had the time and ability to clear the ice and lots of people used the entrance.• The inside floors were very wet, causing slipping.• The car park was full of snow and you could and should have cleared it by the time of the accident.• You told your employee to work on an icy surface (eg roof) at height without adequate precautions against falling when the danger was obvious.• A hotel worker slips on ice on outside steps used by the public after you had time to clear/grit them.
If an employee does have an accident, he or she should report the accident to you straight away. Record the incident in the accident book and ask them to seek medical attention. Both you and your employees need to be sensible, take care and remember that unlike the snow that often disappears as quickly as it came, a broken elbow remains for much, much longer – and a few weeks off work leaves you out of pocket.Charlotte Pegman runs the personal injury department at Hubbard Pegman and Whitney, specialising in psychiatric injury claims and spinal injury claims.
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