Is there no end to this outbreak of health and safety sanity?

The stories about legal accuracy and common sense when it comes to snow clearing just keep on breaking out this year:

CLAIMS that ‘elf and safety’ rules mean you could be sued if someone slips on the pavement after you have cleared it of snow have been dismissed by Taunton-based lawyers. (Somerset County Gazette)


Alex Salmond urged people to clear snow and ice outside their homes. He said: “There is no truth whatsoever that there is any risk of being sued if you clear the pavement outside your premises or house. (Daily Record)

Both of which follow the outbreak a few days ago in Merseyside.

Snow tracksAll in all, thanks in large part to the government’s clear and sane advice this year, it looks like the myth that you shouldn’t clear snow from outside your home because you’ll end up getting sued is now well and truly killed off in the media rather than (as in previously years) regularly reported by the media as gospel.

So on my Christmas wish for next year, how about rather more shops taking clearing snow outside their own premises a little more seriously…?

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  • You’ll be supporting the Snow Clearance Bill 2010-11 then? The Bill will make it illegal for anyone to be prosecuted for clearing snow from public places.

  • Speaking of outbreaks, I’m getting error messages/programme not responding when I come onto this site now.

  • Quite, the health and safety bashing has long been silly and it was hardly ever legislation to blame in the silly cases, just people not wanting to do things.

    @RichardSM which browser are you running and do you have the latest version of Flash installed?

  • “I’d support a bill that set out what you can and can’t do, and give obligations on people to clear their paths and similar if possible, but a blanket amnesty is removing the ability to deal with idiots that think water and bleach are good solutions.”

    And therein lies the problem. Drafting that legislation would be horrendously difficult. The law in this area (standard common law negligence) has been around for donkeys years, is well tested by precedent – illustrated by the fact that a lawyer summarised it in one paragraph without any qualfications 🙂

    The fact that there doesn’t seem to be a single case of someone being successfully sued for negligently clearing a path (I haven’t checked but I’ve never seen one referenced) seems to speak for itself.

  • Last winter a County Council employee (wearing high heals) slipped and fractured her ankle on the local Community Centre car park (Borough Council property). She gained compensation through a no win no fee solicitor.
    It had been policy not to grit the car park over the last 20 years.
    Borough Council insurers caved in and paid up when the solicitor found that the Borough did grit other car parks.
    The lady did admit that high heals were not the best choice considering the weather.
    Is this a case of the insurance company caving in on economic rather than legal grounds? Cheaper to pay up than fight a case.

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