Should you grit your car park
when it is icy?
Should you grit your car park when it is icy?
Ice and snow are major hazards, whether you are in a vehicle or outside of one.
Private car parks get just as much snow and ice as public roads and car parks. Most public roads are normally gritted by the local County Councils - where we are, this is done by Derbyshire County Council. Motorways and major roads are gritted by the Highways Agency. Public car parks are gritted by the district and borough councils.
Who is responsible for the safety of a private car park?
That would be the owner of the business.
The 'to grit or not to grit' argument has been raging for many a year. The myth stating that 'if you grit, you assume responsibility and therefore you are liable' is just that, a myth. If you or your business own that car park, then you are liable for what happens in that car park, and you must take reasonable precautions to make sure your customers do not come to any harm.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 2012, Regulation 12, discusses the condition of floors and traffic routes (emphases in bold are ours):
12.—(1) Every floor in a workplace and the surface of every traffic route in a workplace shall be of a construction such that the floor or surface of the traffic route is suitable for the purpose for which it is used.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (1), the requirements in that paragraph shall include requirements that—
(a)the floor, or surface of the traffic route, shall have no hole or slope, or be uneven or slippery so as, in each case, to expose any person to a risk to his health or safety; and
(b)every such floor shall have effective means of drainage where necessary.
(3) 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.
Not just does an employer have a duty of care to his employees, but also to his visitors. The Occupiers' Liability Act 1957 clearly states this:
2.—Extent of occupier’s ordinary duty
(1)An occupier of premises owes the same duty, the “common duty of care”, to all his visitors, except in so far as he is free to and does extend, restrict, modify or exclude his duty to any visitor or visitors by agreement or otherwise.
Advice by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
The Health and Safety Executive, also known as HSE, aims to ensure that businesses comply with the law, and has lots of advice on anything health and safety related. Their advice for ice, frost and snow is as follows:
• To reduce the risk of slips on ice, frost or snow, you need to assess the risk and put in a system to manage it.
• Identify the outdoor areas used by pedestrians most likely to be affected by ice, for example: - building entrances, car parks, pedestrian walkways, shortcuts, sloped areas and areas constantly in the shade or wet.
• Monitor the temperature, as prevention is key.
• You need to take action whenever freezing temperatures are forecast.
• Put a procedure in place to prevent an icy surface forming and/or keep pedestrians off the slippery surface;
- Use grit or similar, on areas prone to be slippery in frosty, icy conditions;
- Consider covering walkways e.g. by an arbour high enough for people to walk through, or use an insulating material on smaller areas overnight;
- Divert pedestrians to less slippery walkways and barrier off existing ones.
• If warning cones are used, remember to remove them once the hazard has passed or they will eventually be ignored.
So, to grit or not to grit?
You don't necessarily have to use grit, but it is the most common method used to de-ice floors and is also relatively cheap and quick and easy to apply. Just remember that:
- Salt is most effective ground down. Rock salt (the most common form of grit) will be ground down by the passing of vehicles. On pedestrian pathways, this will take longer.
- Salt does not work immediately. The best times to grit your car park, walkways and entrances are the evening before frost, snow and ice affect the floor surfaces, giving the salt sufficient time to dissolve into the moisture on the floor.
- Heavy rain will wash the salt away.
- It is illegal to use the salt from public salting bins; these are meant for public roads, and you could be prosecuted for using these for your business (or private dwelling).