Preventing slips on snow and ice

18 November 2010

 

Cold mornings, frost and the possibility of snow all come with UK winter months. Last year we saw parts of the UK come to a standstill when heavy snow fall and ice made roads unsafe to use and pavements too dangerous to set foot on.

When it comes to health & safety whose responsibility is it to reduce the risks brought by snow and ice? 

The Approved Code of Practice to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations, relating to traffic routes and pedestrian walkways, states: –

“Arrangements should be made to minimise risks from snow and ice. This may involve gritting, snow clearing and closure of some routes, particularly outside stairs, ladders and walkways on roofs”.

Therefore, organisations should minimise injury from slips on snow and ice by taking the following steps: – 

Planning

  • identify the external areas of your premises where slippery conditions are most likely to occur for both vehicles and pedestrians, e.g. on path-ways, car parks, access roads, steps, sloped surfaces, unofficial routes regularly used as short-cuts
  • monitor local weather forecasts to anticipate poor weather conditions
  • keep a stock of gritting material for your premises and suitable equipment to carry out the gritting process
  • where staff work out doors, make sure they have suitable footwear to reduce the risk of slipping
  • where practicable, prevent access to non-essential areas where there is a higher risk of slipping and designate safer alternative routes for vehicles and pedestrians, e.g. use of barriers, cones and signs
  • enforce low speed limits to reduce the risk of vehicles skidding
  • provide adequate segregation between vehicles and pedestrians.

Remember, it is important to clear areas of snow and ice leading from external fire exit doors/stairs for people to use safely in an emergency. 

Prevention/treatment of icy surfaces 

The most common method to prevent external surfaces becoming icy is to apply rock salt early at night before a frost. This technique can be used even at very low temperatures.

Alternatively, snow or ice can be melted by applying rock salt directly after a snow fall or ice formation. However, fresh or compacted snow should be cleared before treating surfaces, in order to enable the rock salt to work most effectively. Ensure the snow removed does not create a risk elsewhere or block drainage channels.

Gritting should not be carried out during heavy rain as this will wash the rock salt away.

Rock salt is not expensive and can be obtained from most builders merchants. Where supplies of rock salt are not available then consider other sources of materials, e.g. grit, table salt.

Citation’s compliance solutions in health & safety and employment law provide SMEs with 24/7 advice and ongoing support to deal with situations like these enabling employers to easily demonstrate they have followed the necessary procedures.

For more information about Citation and the services they provide, visit the Citation website at http://www.citation.co.uk/.

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