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Your responsibilities when it comes to snow

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By SheldonDavidsonSolicitors

Your responsibilities when it comes to snow

Get your woolly hat and gloves out, it’s about to get a lot colder. According to the Manchester Evening News, snow is set to hit parts of Manchester this weekend.

Saturday and Sunday will see temperatures plummet, with snow expected to fall in higher areas, such as Rochdale. Sadly, the current wet and windy weather is set to stay, and with the drop in temperature we are likely to see our first snow appearance this winter in the city.

You have to admit, the thought of snow during the lead up to Christmas is quite magical. Not only does fresh fallen snow create a picturesque scene, it certainly gets you in the spirit for the season to be jolly!

Speaking of snow: Did you know that if you clear the snow on the path in front of your home, and someone falls on the snow or ice, you could be held accountable for their injury.

So what are the responsibilities when it comes to clearing snow? And how does this change when it comes to private and public areas?

Your Responsibility
On any land that you own, much like public liability that we discussed in last weeks blog, you also owe any visitors on your land a duty of care under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984. Whether it’s the postman, milkman, family member or friend, it is down to you as an occupier to ensure your visitors are safe.

So when it comes to snow, and making your property safe for visitors, what actions should you take?

As mentioned, you can be held legally accountable for someone having an injury due to snow being cleared incorrectly on the path outside of your home. However it’s important to remember that it really isn’t as simple as that, and according to the Met Office, people should not be put off clearing paths. As part of your duty of care to others, this should be done in a satisfactory manner.

How to Clear Snow in a Satisfactory Manner
With fresh fallen snow being much softer, the earlier you remove the snow, the better. It’s also advised to remove the snow first thing in the morning, allowing the remaining area to melt if there is sun throughout the day. The Met Office urges the public to use salt or sand – not water. Using water will increase the risk of black ice, causing a more hazardous situation. Remember salt or sand can damage plants; so be careful where you’re placing it.
With excess snow, ensure you don’t place this in an area that could block others access to footpaths and entrances.

You Local Authorities Responsibility 
The good news is that many local authorities will provide a winter service. Manchester City Council’s winter service includes advice on energy efficiency, local grit bins and how to get help with bills. Under the Highways Act 1980, as long as it’s practical, your local authority is responsible for ensuring a ‘safe passage’ along a highway. This also includes adopted roads and public footpaths, although focus will be on main roads.

A similar principal applies to any businesses whereby customers are expected to visit. Entrances and exits must be maintained for the safety of the public and it’s employees.

Sheldon Davidson Solicitors
When it comes to snow, the issue isn’t so much whether you clear snow away or not in fear of being sued. The overriding message from many is that you clear the snow away thoroughly, and are mindful of the duty of care that you owe to others. Remember whether you’re a businesses owner or a homeowner, failing to act responsibly causes accidents, and these are ones you can be held liable for.
While we hope this blog has proved useful, you may be looking for further advice when it comes to a slip trip or fall, regardless of the weather conditions at the time. If you feel as though you have suffered a personal injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, our team of professional personal injury solicitors will happily advise you.


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