November 15, 2016

Slips and trips: six tips for exercising your duty of care on paths and car parks

During autumn and winter months there is increased risk to employees and other pedestrians from slipping and falling whilst walking between buildings or to their cars.

Longer nights, less light, fallen leaves, and wet and icy weather are just some of the reasons for this increased risk, so it’s essential that the upkeep of these areas is given priority during the bad weather seasons.

Read this three-minute blog so you know your responsibilities and our six top tips for exercising your duty of care.

Duty of care and the law

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is specific in that, amongst other things, you have a duty of care to provide a safe place of work for your employees and others including safe access to and exit from it.

Legal interpretation has shown that this duty of care extends to external areas such as car parks and pedestrian walkways.

This means it is your responsibility as a business owner to ensure that you manage the risks associated with external areas including any car parks and walkways used by visitors and staff.

Assess the areas and park the risk

It is important that you assess the risks in your external areas to identify where the hazards relating to your particular circumstances are and put in place a suitable programme of inspection and maintenance appropriate for the identified risk.

We’re not saying that you need a permanent presence keeping car parks and walkways in pristine condition and free of risk but you must have robust written plans in place to keep any risk as low as possible.

Six tips for successful duty of care in external areas:

  1. Identify and repair uneven surfaces and replace broken paving slabs.

  2. Discourage the practice of taking short cuts across grassed areas and sloped surfaces.

  3. If you are laying new walkways, it is good to understand how pedestrians are likely to move around and lay the path sympathetic to this.

  4. Regularly clear fallen leaves from walkways before they present a risk of slipping on them. It might even be worth considering removing trees and shrubs responsible for leaf drop.

  5. Grit walkways when there is a chance of frost or snow. It is really important to do this at the right time, so keep a check on weather forecasts and act accordingly. It is no use gritting when it is raining as it will be washed away. You might be able to contract gritting to a third party who specialise in this type of work. If you use your own staff, make sure that they are supplied with and wear the correct PPE, such as non-slip footwear and suitable foul weather clothing.

  6. Consider providing ‘smart’ signs that display warning messages when the temperature drops below a set level.

Further reading

With forecasters predicting up to four months of stormy weather ahead, Britain could be facing the worst winter in 100 years. Managing your team during a period of disruption can be a challenge, so here’s a quick checklist to make sure you’ve given yourself the best chance of success.

### If you require additional support please contact our Health and Safety Team on 0845 073 0240 (option 1) or email

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About the author

Ron Young

About the author

Ron Young

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