U.K.: “Health and safety experts warn: don’t clear icy pavements, you could get sued”

by Walter Olson on January 10, 2010

“…[T]he professional body that represents health and safety experts has issued a warning to businesses not to grit public paths – despite the fact that Britain is in the grip of its coldest winter for nearly half a century. … The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents expressed its disappointment that public safety was being neglected because of fears of possible litigation.” A past president of the British Orthopaedic Association said: “If people want to clear pavements, they should just do it. I would have thought it’s a public service and it is a shame we have ended up with a culture where if someone slips, they want to sue someone. People need a bit of grit, in both senses.” [Telegraph] Update: IOSH, the health and safety group, says newspapers misstated its position and that it is indeed in favor of businesses’ gritting public paths (h/t commenter Yossarian).

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1 Steve 01.11.10 at 8:22 am

This is poorly-researched rubbish – there is no case-law, only evidence of ambulance chasers being thrown out of court with similar liability cases. You can only be sued if you create a worse hazard than the one already present, and even then the judge would used common sense.

This is the right-wing press pursuing their anti- government aqgenda (again).

If you think otherwise – show me the case.

2 A.W. 01.11.10 at 10:20 am

after the big blizzard down here in NOVA, i went to a mcdonalds, and it was barely shoveled at all. i actually fell down, had some minor scraped palms. i said, “f— them. if they don’t want to make it safe to enter, then i guess they don’t want my business.” i even complained.

my point is I will punish any business that doesn’t clear its walkways. and i am probably not the only one.

3 William Nuesslein 01.11.10 at 1:50 pm

Last Friday I fell down while shoveling snow from my parking area. My wife found my attempt at flight to be very funny. Whom should I sue?

4 Melvin H. 01.11.10 at 5:42 pm

Steve, it seems to me that it’s local governments and some associations in Britain who are doing the advising here.. You should show the Overlawyered readers that it is NOT the case, particularly that it’s a “right-wing press . . . pursuing an agenda.”

5 David Cobb 01.11.10 at 8:03 pm

YAY for the right winged zealots who pursue undefined agendas. At least they display some modicum of common sense.

6 Yossarian 01.12.10 at 6:20 am

The Professional Body in question issued the following clarification:

http://www.iosh.co.uk/news_and_events/news/latest_member_news/iosh_gritting_guidance.aspx

I’ll leave it to your readers to decide about agendas being pursued.

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