How much could a slip on ice cost your business?
1st September 2020
This winter, the cost of a compensation claim after a slip on ice or snow – or the cost of closure should we see another Beast from the East – could devastate businesses, as AccuGrit’s Dean Harvey explains.
Dean Harvey is the co-founder and Managing Director of AccuGrit, who pride themselves on providing the most effective and transparent winter maintenance service in the gritting and snow clearing industry. With a wealth of experience, a 24/7 control room, functionality to audit 100% of visits all day every day via their YETI bespoke management software, and specialist teams in the field using robust Sno-Way machinery, organisations in the private and public sector across the UK choose AccuGrit as their trusted winter maintenance partner.
“Arrangements should be made to minimise risks from snow and ice.”
–Paragraph 116, the Approved Code of Practice and Guidance
As the winter season moves closer, any facilities managers that haven’t yet made gritting and snow clearing arrangements to protect staff and visitors on their sites need to make this task a priority. Injury claims caused by a slip on ice, frost or snow can cost businesses hundreds of thousands in compensation– many businesses could ill afford these sums in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Your Legal Responsibility
Regulation 12 of the Health and Safety Executive’s Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992 clearly states: “So far as is reasonably practicable, every floor in a workplace and the surface of every traffic route in a workplace shall be kept free from obstructions and from any article or substance which may cause a person to slip, trip or fall.”
If you’ve failed to put a system in place to reduce the risk of slips on ice, frost or snow, in accordance with the guidance provided on the HSE’s website, it’s clear excuses won’t cut any ice in court.
Claims When Systems Fail
Organisations that fail to put in an adequate system expose themselves to the risk of a serious injury occurring at their workplaces, which can result in large compensation awards.
In 2009, a prison officer slipped on ice while on guard dog patrol. Simon Butler fractured his right ankle when he fell at HMP Woodhill in Buckinghamshire. At a hearing at London’s High Court in 2015, the judge was told that the injury caused the formerly fit and healthy prison officer constant pain and may need an amputation. Judge Rosalind Coe QC agreed that Butler’s injury was caused by the Ministry of Justice’s failure to grit the area where he fell– he was awarded £496,717 as well as the right to return to court for further compensation should his condition deteriorate further.
In a previous year, £550,000 had been paid out by Hertfordshire Police to a civilian worker who suffered chronic pain syndrome after breaking an elbow slipping in their icy car park.
Of course, the cost to an organisation doesn’t stop with the amount awarded for compensation. Add legal, investigation and reputational costs and the total cost is significantly more. So even the claims that don’t make the headlines – the ones in the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds – can have a significant impact on businesses that find themselves liable.
Picture: A photograph of a retail car park in snowy conditions
The Cost of Closure in Adverse Weather
For businesses financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, remaining safely open for business whatever the weather throws at us will also be a major concern.
For clients providing essential services, a second spike of infections would make this even more important. In addition, these clients have to protect themselves from fines for which they may be liable if unable to open. Hospitals, for example, may be fined around £250K per day if they close for an avoidable reason, which is why our FM clients responsible for them choose their gritting and snow clearing partners very wisely!
However, it’s not just these clients who could be financially affected by closures caused by winter weather. Any business who welcomes customers to their premises could experience financial losses if customers are deterred by a failure to properly tackle ice or snow in the car park or on paths.
The past two winters have been mild and uneventful, however the Beast from the East in 2018 looms large in many memories. This resulted in severe financial impacts across the UK and at one point cost our economy an estimated one billion pounds a day due to:
- Reduced footfall in retail outlets, leisure facilities, theatres, cinemas and restaurants
- The construction industry coming to a halt, and
- The aviation industry being unable to fly
Many of the businesses affected by the Beast from the East are now struggling to recover from the impact of the lockdown, so preparing for the possibility of another year of adverse winter weather will be vital.
To protect your organisation from the potential costs of closure or compensation claims, it’s essential to put in place an effective winter maintenance plan before the cold weather arrives.
To do this you have two choices– you can risk the DIY approach or outsource the task to a professional winter maintenance company like AccuGrit to ensure your facility can remain open and fully protected from the risks of slips on ice or snow.