Here’s what the law says about clearing snow from your premises

February 18, 2021

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Snow has a bit of a mixed reputation with all of us here in the UK. To some, especially younger people, there’s nothing more enchanting than looking out of your window in the morning and seeing the world outside unexpectedly transformed into a wonderland worthy of a Victorian postcard. To others though, that volume of snow is just a bit of a nightmare, especially if you’re a business owner or one of the many people not working from home at the moment.

As manufacturers of roto-moulded grit bins here at Excelsior, we were one of the countless businesses who found ourselves relying on our own more than ever last month, as Storm Darcy brought widespread snow and disruption across the UK. But it wasn’t just the obvious logistical and safety challenges that some business owners were grappling with – some were also unsure about their legal obligations with regards to clearing snow and ice too.

Already, tentative predictions are being made for more snow to temporarily blanket the UK in the coming weeks, so we thought now would be a great time to recap on where the law stands on the issue, and what your legal responsibilities are as an employer.

What are my legal responsibilities towards clearing snow and ice?

Essentially, lots of the main questions revolve around this big one: if you clear snow from your premises, and someone subsequently slips and falls, could that open you up to legal action?

Really, there’s no one-size fits-all answer to this question, as the specifics of each case will differ. However, it’s worth remembering that when it comes right down to it, clearing snow and ice is a lot safer than not clearing it. In fact, the Occupier’s Liability Act 1957 obliges the owner or occupier of private land to ensure safe access for staff and visitors. All that means that ultimately, you’re unlikely to be held liable for any falls, as long as the task of clearing itself is done in a sensible, responsible and efficient manner.

On that note, no law explicitly forbids you from clearing snow and ice from public highways in order to make them safer, but it’s illegal to move snow or ice from your own premises onto a public space or highway, so it’s worth taking particular care not to accidentally do so.

If you’re planning on tasking an employee with clearing the snow or ice, then your normal Duty of Care applies, so you need to take all available steps to ensure their safety. That means ensuring they’re dressed in appropriate warm clothing, providing any necessary Personal Protective Equipment, and providing them with extra training if necessary.

If you’re based in a business park, you may find that clearing snow or ice is the responsibility of the owner or managing agent, so if that’s not you, it’s a good idea to check with them before you start, in case they’re already handling it.

The Government Snow Code

The UK government refreshed its Snow Code back in 2012, and the official government site still has plenty of useful advice pertaining to how to do the task correctly. Some of its most important bits of advice include:

Clear the top layer first to prevent loose snow from covering any slippery surfaces beneath. This exposes the lower surfaces to open air throughout the day, which often helps them to thaw more quickly.
Start by making a clear path down the centre for you to work outwards, shovelling snow out to the outer edges of your premises where it’s less likely to present a hazard
Cover the path with salt at night to prevent the danger of re-freezing.
Don’t use water to clear snow, as this can harden into dry ice.
It’s strongly advised that you use proper grit salt, measuring it out as a tablespoon for every square metre. The measurements are quite important, as too much salt can be just as dangerous as too little.

Those are just a few general bits of advice, and as you can see, grit is one of the most instrumental tools you can use to make your premises safer in snowy or icy conditions – which means that proper grit bins are essential. Happily, that’s exactly where we can help here at Excelsior.

We supply a wide range of rotomoulded grit bins

With over a century of history behind us, we have almost unrivalled experience with roto moulding plastic products, and we specialise in producing rotomoulded grit bins for clients across a huge range of backgrounds, sectors and industries. In fact, we’ve been manufacturing these bins for over 20 years, and with 7 different types of bins available, our range is the largest in Europe.

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These bins range in size, so you can choose anything from our smallest bins designed for homes or offices, all the way up to our heavier 500kg capacity grit bins – perfect for commercial or industrial environments. Our rotomoulding process uses UV-stabilised medium-density polyethylene to create each bin, so that they can endure even the harshest elements all year round, and with 14 tools at our disposal, we have the capacity to produce 800 bins each week.

You can click here to see some of the names on our extensive range of stockists. If you’d like to become one, or buy a grit bin for your own premises directly, don’t hesitate to give us a call 0161 765 2010, and we’ll be happy to see what we can do!