Give Slips the Boot This Winter - New case highlights the need for bosses to assess slip risks for field-based workers

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14 Nov 2013

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  London, 22 October 2013 – As the weather begins to turn colder, employers are being warned of the need to properly assess slip risks and provide appropriate footwear for those employees who work out in the field, such as care staff, especially in wintry conditions. The warning from health and safety expert, Croner, part of Wolters Kluwer, follows the recent case of Kennedy v Cordia (Services) LLP (2013) at the Scottish Civil Court. Tracey Kennedy, a home carer employed by Cordia in Glasgow, suffered serious damage to her wrist when she slipped on ice covered with snow while on a night visit to a terminally ill client. She claimed compensation for a breach of PPE Regulations, the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and in common law negligence. The Court of Session ruled that the company was liable for failing to properly assess the risk posed by the weather conditions and not providing Ms Kennedy with proper footwear which could have prevented her fall. They also found that Cordia failed to give proper guidance on what she should wear in the conditions to avoid slipping. Stephen Thomas, Health & Safety Technical Consultant at Croner, says: “Slipping on ice or snow during harsh weather is entirely foreseeable. “This decision emphasises the need for employers with field workers to properly assess the risks posed to them by cold weather conditions and, where a significant risk of slipping is found, it is managed sensibly. “Preference should be given to avoiding the risk entirely, e.g. by the employee being advised to stay at home. However where this is not possible, employers must take steps to reduce the risk. In this case the provision of an inexpensive overshoe attachment as used by other employers and local authorities could have spared both Ms Kennedy the pain and distress her accident caused and her employer the associated costs.”

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