Employers Given Ice Advice by HSA  

Regulation 14 of the Workplace Regulations 2007 requires that ‘outdoor and indoor places of work are organised so that , pedestrians and vehicles can circulate in a safe manner. Traffic routes are designed, located and dimensioned to ensure safe and appropriate access for pedestrians or vehicles. Pedestrian routes and traffic routes are clearly identified where the use and equipment so require’.

An Approved Code of Practice, which has legal status, explains this requirement. It states:

”Arrangements should be made to minimize risks from snow and ice, this may involve gritting, snow clearing and closure of some routes, particularly external stairs, ladders and walkways on roofs”.

This indicates that a sensible reasoned approach is required. Our advice is to identify key routes and keep them clear, close those that are not necessary and make sure that everyone knows what the ‘winter arrangements’ are. Gritting or providing salt causes some concern to employers in case it generates an increased liability in the event of an accident. This should not be the case where a sensible and reasoned approach is taken to managing snow and ice. Peninsula’s view is that access routes and areas that do pose a hazard because of ice and snow should be properly gritted.

The correct grade of rock salt and grit should be used and uniformly applied at the correct rate of application: 8 to 10gm per square metre when snow and ice is expected and 40gm per square metre is required to clear a build up of snow or ice. Once applied regular inspection of the cleared path is appropriate to assess whether further applications are required.

Where premises are shared all the occupiers should agree which areas should be cleared and or treated and which should not. In all cases sufficient staff should be allocated to carry out the clearance task (subject, of course, to risk assessment in the methods used). In some cases it may be preferable to use external contractors; if so you need to obtain detailed risk assessments from the contractor regarding how they will carry out the work. You should also check the contractor’s insurance status in terms of the protection provided by their work.

Where possible, try to plan ahead by checking weather forecasts, particularly those of ‘severe weather’ so that some preventive pre-treatment may take place.


Tuesday, 30 November, 2010


The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has urged employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees and visitors to their premises during cold weather. Writing on the HSA web site, Anne Maria O’Connor, Senior Inspector with the Authority said –

“Last year approximately one in five reported accidents to the Authority were as a result of a slip, trip or fall. With approximately a quarter of these accidents resulting in absences from work of more than a month, it’s in everyone’s interest that simple safeguards are taken to reduce the risk of workplace falls.”

The HSA has issued further advice on its web site to prevent slips, trips and falls due to treacherous conditions in freezing weather. These include identifying areas of the workplace where employees and visitors are most likely to be affected by ice and snow – such as car parks and exposed walkways – and making sure that floor areas are kept as dry as possible. Employers are also encouraged to monitor weather forecasts to plan ahead for inclement weather and plan accordingly.

Employees are also offered advice by the HSA to prevent the incidence of slips, trips and falls due to icy conditions. It is suggested that employees take care when getting out of their vehicles – holding onto its door to support themselves when the ground may be frozen. Furthermore, employees should also wear appropriate footwear for the weather and dry them thoroughly when entering a workplace to avoid causing wet and slippery conditions inside the premises.

Employers have an obligation under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act to provide a safe environment in which to work. Failing to take heed of the advice issued by the HSA could result in an employer being liable for any injury sustained in the workplace. You should mention this to a solicitor if you are in the unfortunate position where you have to make a claim for personal injury compensation due to the lack of care by an employer