Slips on a Icy Path… A Case Law example

As we have a cold weather front approaching and some real winter may well be approaching… that leads us to the old stories and tales about slips on ice and who is responsible.

Most of what we hear from good intentioned colleagues has to be taken with a pinch of salt – even advice from experts can be somewhat hit and miss.

We can argue that ice is naturally occurring but case law leads us to recommend that anti slip overshoes or similar may be a wise investment for some staff, particularly those visiting homes without the benefit industrial footwear.

Read on below for some case law to shed some light on the matter.

Kennedy v Cordia

This is one of the most significant cases in this area and concerns a care home worker who, in December 2010, slipped on a path. She had been making an essential visit during that period of very cold weather, wearing flat shoes with some ridging of the soles but they were not a match for the icy path conditions.  She fell and broke her wrist and the case was eventually heard at the Scottish Court of Session in August 2013 where the Court found in her favour and against her employer, Cordia (Services) LLP.

However, her employer appealed the case and was successful in its defence BUT the case was then referred to the Supreme Court which then concluded that Cordia (Services) LLP were liable after all.  Hope you are following this so far!

The above gives some insight into both the legal process and the difficulty of the courts in deciding who is actually at fault. The key issue was the fact that icy conditions had been identified as a risk AND that similar accidents had occurred in the past, this meant that ice could be seen then as an obvious hazard affecting the worker.

One other key fact was that staff were advised to wear appropriate footwear but that this was not specified in terms of what appropriate was.  Other similar businesses (mostly larger ones) had begun to provide anti slip over shoes (Yaktrax and similar) and it was decided that their provision would have been reasonable to expect in the circumstances.  The company was found guilty under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

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