Gritting and Salting in Bad Weather…

Image pf snowy driving conditions Grit Liability


As the cold winter weather approaches, we look at the legal duties surrounding snow and ice-related accident risks.

The most likely places for slips or falls on snow or ice to occur are places that we visit everyday. Places such as your place of work, or in a car park at a shopping center. In a supermarket, on school grounds, hospital grounds, or even at a train or bus station.

The most common types of injuries caused by slipping on snow or ice include:

  • Muscle sprains and ligament strains.
  • Fractures and broken bones.
  • Back injuries and pain,
  • Concussion and other head injuries.

Who is liable?

Public roads and pathways…

You could be liable for failing to grit or salt an area if the presence of snow and ice subsequently leads to personal injury.

The nature and extent of the duty depends on where the snow and ice was.

For accidents that occur on the highway, the Highways Act 1980 states that ‘… a highway authority are under a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow and ice’.

However, it is important to note that the local authorities are not under a duty to take all available steps to avoid accidents or injury. Simply because it is impossible to make every footpath safe as soon as snow or ice forms.

Therefore, a local authority may successfully defend a personal injury claim for not having had enough time to do anything about the situation.

In the workplace…

For accidents that occur in a workplace, the relevant Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, require employers ‘…to keep every floor and every traffic route in the said workplace free from obstructions and from any article or substance which may cause a person to slip, trip or fall’.

This includes taking reasonable steps to keep access routes clear of snow and ice. Particularly where employees are likely to use the access routes regularly in carrying out their duties at work.

Precautions that might be expected are:

  • Clearing pathways to the work premises.
  • Clearing a car park, or making access points safe.

The duty of the employer is higher where workers are routinely required to work outside in winter. An employer must ensure that employees are provided with adequate training, warnings and safety equipment.

For accidents in other areas, where the visitors are non-employed, the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 will apply.

It imposes a duty on the occupiers to take reasonable steps to ensure that premises are reasonably safe.

Therefore, if it is foreseeable that people will pass over an icy area in order to access premises, the occupier has a duty to do something about the potential slipping hazards, and this can include snow and ice.

Access routes cont…

There will be a greater expectation for a smaller site with a single public access point to keep that access route clear of ice. This is in contrast to a larger site which might not be expected to keep all areas similarly clear, particularly if an area is not frequently used.

The other relevant factors will include the likelihood of freezing conditions, i.e. if it was reasonably foreseeable that the weather would be cold enough to take precautions such as gritting paths the night before. Particularly if there has been an extended spell of cold weather.

Image of cars covered in snow. Winter weather blog post


None of these duties are strict, and whether liability will be established will depend on the facts of each case.

It is not a realistic standard to impose on either occupiers or employers to keep all access-ways absolutely clear of snow and ice at all times during bad weather.

For example, it is unlikely they will be liable for someone who may have had an accident in a carpark if they have put in place a reasonable system to clear access routes.

If you have slipped or fallen on snow or ice in a public place or at work; you might be able to claim.

If you would like to speak to our personal injury solicitor, then please give us a call on our Freephone on 0800 011 6666 or email us at

Article written by Natasha Layton
November 2018


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