How ridiculous..... http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/6958131/Health-and-safety-experts-warn-dont-clear-icy-pavements-you-could-get-sued.html
Pavements are being left covered in ice because of ludicrous laws that put home owners and businesses at risk of being sued if they try to clear them.
Heavy snow, low temperatures and a lack of gritting mean pavements throughout the country are too slippery to walk on safely. Hospitals have been struggling to cope with rising numbers of patients who have broken bones after falling on icy paths.
Yet the professional body that represents health and safety experts has issued a warning to businesses not to grit public paths despite the fact that Britain is in the grip of its coldest winter for nearly half a century.
Under current legislation, householders and companies open themselves up to legal action if they try to clear a public pavement outside their property. If they leave the path in a treacherous condition, they cannot be sued.
Councils, who have a responsibility for public highways, say they have no legal obligation to clear pavements.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents expressed its disappointment that public safety was being neglected because of fears of possible litigation. A spokesman said: This is not showing a particularly good attitude. It would be much safer for the public to clear paths, even if its not on their property.
But the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, the professional body representing 36,000 health and safety experts, gave warning that this could lead to legal action.
In guidance to its members, who advise businesses throughout the country, it said: When clearing snow and ice, it is probably worth stopping at the boundaries of the property under your control.
Clearing a public path can lead to an action for damages against the company, e.g. if members of the public, assuming that the area is still clear of ice and thus safe to walk on, slip and injure themselves.
Legal experts said home owners could fall victim to the same laws if they tried to clear an icy path but failed to do the job properly. John McQuater, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, admitted: If you do nothing you cannot be liable. If you do something, you could be liable to a legal action.
Ann Widdecombe, the former Tory minister and critic of Britains burgeoning compensation culture, said last night: The idea you can be sued for being helpful is absolutely ludicrous.
Clare Marx, past president of the British Orthopaedic Association and orthopaedic consultant at Ipswich Hospital, said: If people want to clear pavements, they should just do it. I would have thought its a public service and it is a shame we have ended up with a culture where if someone slips, they want to sue someone. People need a bit of grit, in both senses.
The association said its members expected to have treated tens of thousands of fractures by the time the conditions eventually improved.
The national shortage of gritting salt is likely to mean even fewer paths will be gritted by councils in the days to come. The Government is trying to import supplies from the United States and Europe but they are not expected to arrive for another fortnight.
Members of the public say they have been warned by councils about the legal risks of gritting. Michael Pepper, 68, asked Cambridge county council to deliver grit which he offered to spread but was told by officials he could be sued if he did so. The council later insisted Mr Pepper had been given the wrong guidance.
The Royal Caledonian Curling Club was also forced to bow to health and safety rules as it abandoned plans for a match on the Lake of Menteith, near Stirling. The club was unable to obtain insurance after safety fears were expressed by emergency services.
Forecasters are predicting that freezing conditions will continue until at least Wednesday. Kent police said last night that the military was on stand-by to help if the weather in the county worsened. Motorists were advised not to travel unless absolutely necessary.