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Slips and Trips – Icy conditions and winter weather

Slip and trip accidents increase during the Autumn and Winter season for a number of reasons: there is less daylight, leaves fall onto paths and become wet and slippery and cold weather spells cause ice and snow to build up on paths. There are effective actions that you can take to reduce the risk of a slip or trip. Regardless of the size of your site, always ensure that regularly used walkways are promptly tackled.

Lighting

Is there is enough lighting around your workplace for you and your workers to be able to see and avoid hazards that might be on the ground? The easiest way to find out is to ask your staff. Another way is to shadow your employees for a couple of days, walk the main internal and external routes that they use throughout their working day. It is important to do this both inside and outside of the workplace, as the effect of light changes during the day. If you can’t see hazards on the ground you will need to improve the lighting (eg new lights or changing the type of bulb).

Wet and decaying leaves

Fallen leaves that become wet or have started to decay can create slip risks in two ways, they hide any hazard that may be on the path or they themselves create a slip risk.

Put in place a procedure for removing leaves at regular intervals; you might even consider removing the offending bushes or trees altogether.

Rain water

In dealing with rainwater:

  • When fitting external paved areas ensure that the material used will be slip resistant when wet.
  • Discourage people from taking shortcuts over grass or dirt which are likely to become slippery when wet. Consider converting existing shortcuts into proper paths.
  • On new sites, before laying paths, think about how pedestrians are likely to move around the site. Putting the path in the right place from the start may save you money in the long term.
  • Many slip accidents happen at building entrances as people entering the building walk in rainwater. Fitting canopies of a good size over building entrances and in the right position can help to prevent this.
  • If a canopy is not a possibility, consider installing large, absorbent mats or even changing the entrance flooring to one which is non-slip.

Ice, frost and snow

  • 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. Keep up to date by visiting a weather service site such as the Met Office or the Highways England.
  • There are also smart signs on the market, available to buy at low cost, which display warning messages at £50 and below.
  • 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 eg 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.

Gritting

The most common method used to de-ice floors is gritting as it is relatively cheap, quick to apply and easy to spread. Rock salt (plain and treated) is the most commonly used ‘grit’. It is the substance used on public roads by the highways authority.

Salt can stop ice forming and cause existing ice or snow to melt. It is most effective when it is ground down, but this will take far longer on pedestrian areas than on roads.

Gritting should be carried out when frost, ice or snow is forecast or when walkways are likely to be damp or wet and the floor temperatures are at, or below freezing. The best times are early in evening before the frost settles and/or early in the morning before employees arrive. Salt doesn’t work instantly; it needs sufficient time to dissolve into the moisture on the floor.

If you grit when it is raining heavily the salt will be washed away, causing a problem if the rain then turns to snow. Compacted snow, which turns to ice, is difficult to treat effectively with grit. Be aware that ‘dawn frost’ can occur on dry surfaces, when early morning dew forms and freezes on impact with the cold surface. It can be difficult to predict when or where this condition will occur.

Author Credit:- https://bit.ly/AIM_HSEslipsandtrips

 

Offering Coasteering? – Getting the cover you need

Many providers of this popular activity struggle to find the right liability cover, either because their insurance provider doesn’t understand the activity or they consider it too risky and will not offer terms or a quotation.

We have had recent experience of providers looking for cover at the last minute because their insurance company changed its attitude to risk and pulled out of the market.  This can be particularly frustrating if you are about to deliver your first coasteering session in months due to the global pandemic!

As the temperature warms up and restrictions are hopefully lifted, we know for many activity providers offering coasteering is a key part of your activity business, and you will be looking forward to delivering sessions again.

We can provide cover for your sessions with schools and families as well as adult groups from stag and hen weekends and corporate team building exercises.

Please be assured that Activities Industry Mutual (AIM ) underwriters are familiar with this particular activity when providing a quotation.  We are an Associate Member of the National Coasteering Charter (NCC), and we keep up to date with their meetings and events.  They promote best practice, provider and guide support in the sector, so if you are not a current Member of the NCC we encourage you to have a look at what they offer.

There is also a new guide award that the NCC have introduced and will be rolling out to trainers and guides in 2021/2022. https://www.nationalcoasteeringcharter.org.uk/coasteering-qualification/.

We welcome enquiries from providers offering coasteering, please speak to one of our team.

 NCC Guide award outline:

The guide award has been developed by a working group of NCC members, coasteering providers and guides from around the UK.

The award has been structured to allow new guides coming into the industry the opportunity to work through a structured scheme that allows them to gain a base line in standard coasteering guide practice by undertaking a 2-day training course, partaking in a consolidation period and then undergoing a formal assessment. Existing coasteering guides who already have experience and some formal training will be able to apply for the opportunity to APL the training elements of the award.

Photo Credit: TYF Adventure

 

Top 5 UK Cycling Destinations

Activity Providers Cycling Destinations

We have a number of Members who operate cycling and mountain bike trails and tours.  Many will be disappointed that the Tour De Yorkshire has been postponed from 2021 until 2022.  Here’s a look at the Top 5 UK cycling destinations to inspire you. We can offer providers cover for Public Liability, Employer’s Liability and equipment cover.  If your business is registered in the UK then we can assist. Please speak to us about a quotation.

Yorkshire Dales

Road cycling in Yorkshire is renowned for its wild scenery, tough riding but welcoming hospitality and the real sense of a cycling community. It has grown in reputation over the last 10 years to be known as one of the best areas of not only the UK but Europe to visit and ride a bike.

Climb the likes of the Cote de Buttertubs, Grinton Moor and Lofthouse fueled on the local delicacy of Wensleydale cheese and Fat Rascals.

Lake District

The Lake District in Cumbria is one of the most beautiful places to ride a bike in the UK, but it is also one of the toughest. Mention the names Hardknott Pass, Kirkstone Pass or the aptly named Struggle and you are sure to get a large intake of breath but also a look of excitement from any roadie mates.

Cornwall

Cycling in Cornwall offers a rider an overwhelming sensory sensation – sandy beaches, sunny weather, a soft sea breeze in your face whilst you roll through the quiet country lanes flourishing with wild flowers. The breath-taking landscape allows you to part forgive the area for the punishing inclines that you get on the coastal roads, as you ride into the pretty little coves and harbours, and inevitably have to clamber back out.

Peak District

The Peak District is England’s oldest national park, designated as such in 1951, and ever since then it has been a haven for cyclists.

Being named the Peak District, you won’t be surprised that there are quite a lot of hills to climb. You can still find some more ‘gentle’ cycling routes to do if you don’t quite fancy slogging up the hills all day, but if you are a bit of a mountain goat, then you definitely won’t be disappointed. Not only are the hills plentiful, some of them are also incredibly steep. Find yourself at the foot of Winnats Pass and you will have really earned your Bakewell pudding from one of the numerous tea & cake shops enroute.

Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons national park, located in South Wales offers everything from charming and lively market towns, to high peaks with incredible views of the Welsh countryside and Black Mountains.

It is a microcosm of everything that makes Wales wonderful. Cloud-piercing peaks and high road passes look down upon the meandering rivers and waterways that pierce through the lush valleys.

Whether you are there for a full week or just a quick weekend break you will enjoy every minute of the famous Welsh hospitality and amazing countryside.

With thanks to https://www.bikecation.co.uk/.

Public Liability Claims – Defence success for Member

We think it is important to publish details of judgement’s in Public Liability trial cases so that the Mutual and Members can use this valuable lessons learned information.  It also demonstrates that the Mutual will try to defend liability claims where it feels appropriate.  The details below have been provided by our legal colleagues at Clyde & Co who successfully defended this case.

Overview

The claimant, aged 14, suffered from Laurence Moon Beidl Syndrome which affected his eyesight. He was registered partially blind. The claimant often attended Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind  (“SRSB” – 1st defendant) for after school club and activities. SRSB took the claimant for a bouldering session at the premises of (“the Centre” – 2nd defendant).

Circumstances of Claim

Once at the Centre the claimant participated in warm up activities and then climbed one of the junior boulders. He did so with minimal assistance though he needed some help to get over the top of the wall. The wall had an enclosed chute/slide, which was popular with children, and which offered a means of descent. The chute was known to be fast. The claimant was instructed to slide down the chute and upon reaching the ground, he injured his ankle.

It was the claimant’s case that the enclosed chute was not safe for him, as his condition meant that his eyesight significantly worsened in dim conditions and that in going down the chute he had become disorientated.

Outcomes

It was accepted by all parties that the specifics of the claimant’s condition were not made known to the Centre staff, though the Centre knew he had a visual impairment. Visually impaired clients had used the chute in the past with no incidents, though the number was small.

The claimant alleged that the SRSB – 1st Defendant’s risk assessment in relation to the activity was inadequate and that a suitable assessment would have shown that the chute was not safe for this particular claimant. The Court agreed. Furthermore, the judge held that had the Centre instructors known that the chute was likely to disorientate the claimant, an alternative method of descent from the boulder wall could have been offered. The Court held that the Centre was not obliged by law to proactively enquire about the claimant’s condition and that it was entitled to rely on SRSB – 1st Defendant to draw any specific matters to the Centre’s attention.

The claimant was therefore successful in his claim against SRSB – 1st Defendant but unsuccessful against the Centre.

If you have any questions or queries about Public Liability cover and or the way the Mutual handles claims please get in touch.

Details of Clyde & Co : [email protected]

 

 

COVID 19 Update – AIM help for Members

This has been an extremely distressing and stressful time for us all and we are acutely aware of how severe the impact of this pandemic has been for all our Members.   We have been working hard to be able to assist you and to answer your requests for payment holidays while many of you have businesses which have closed and all have cashflow problems.

AIM wants to do all we can to assist our Members. 

Those who have paid their contribution in full as one payment are being contacted separately.

For those Members who make monthly payments, we are offering a 3 month holiday break from payments for the period 1st May to end July 2020.  During this period, we will not expect you to make the usual monthly payment, and will allow until 30th September 2020 for these payments to be paid.  Your cover will continue.  If however you have any claims during this period (liability or property), we will need to receive payment in full for any missed months before being able to handle any claim for you.  If you are unable to make the payments by the 30th September 2020, please contact us.  If payments cannot be made up then we may have to cancel your cover.  If you do not want to have the payment holiday, please let us know immediately, otherwise we will not take any monies for these three specified months.

Alternatively if you are not able to carry out any activities, and only have Public Liability cover, you may prefer to pause your cover for a 3 month period until 31st July 2020, or until you are able to resume activities if earlier or later.  During this period, we would not seek any contributions from you if you have requested a pause in your cover but there would not be any cover in place during this time.  You will need to advise us as soon as you are able to recommence activities so we can ensure you have the correct cover in place.

Property and Employers’ Liability covers continue and we recommend to Members that you keep these covers in place.  These contributions will still be due, but are included in the payment holiday as above.

Business Interruption

In addition we wish to reassure Members that we have been in correspondence with the Mutual’s backing insurers regarding the Business Interruption wording and whether or not cover will be afforded by the insurer.  Those discussions continue and whilst the current position remains that it is unlikely that cover will be available, we are reserving our position with them.  We will update Members with any developments, albeit this may take some time.

 

Another Liability Claim Successfully Defended

Another liability claim successfully defended – but not without legal costs

This claim for damages arose from an accident which occurred during a coasteering activity on the Abereiddy Beach on the Pembrokeshire coast on 13 September 2008. The group members were invited to slide down a smooth two metre slab of rock, and it appeared that the claimant landed awkwardly and caught her foot on a projecting piece of rock at the foot of the slide, fracturing her right ankle in a shallow rock pool. Following a complaint by the injured party to the Licensing Authority on the appropriateness of the slide where she broke her ankle, the handling of the accident by the instructor and the after-incident care, an AALA complaint investigation inspection took place on 14th November. The report concluded that, whilst acknowledging that the 1-to-10 ratio had been exceeded (it was 1 to 12), the slab looked innocuous enough and the others in the group had completed the slide without incident, and that the immediate first aid and summoning of help was carried out adequately.

However, the claimant’s solicitors, MWR Solicitors of Preston, couldn’t wait for the AALA report and issued a letter of claim on 2nd December 2008 alleging that, inter alia, the provider exposed their client to a foreseeable risk of injury and failed to provide an experienced instructor. And they continued to press their case subsequent to the AALA report.

The wheels of justice turn slowly and in this case very slowly. Proceedings were issued in September 2011, four days before the three year limitation (or deadline date) and served in January 2012, seven days inside the further four month extension deadline and the case finally made it to the Southend County Court for the hearing on the 6th and 7th February 2014, before being adjourned to 23rd May for the judge to consider further written submissions.

Eventually, five years and two hundred and sixty nine days after the accident, the Circuit Judge ruled that the claimant’s injury was “a true and unavoidable accident for which the defendant should not be found liable”, a judgment pretty much consistent with the conclusions of the original AALA Complaint Report of some five and a half years earlier.

Although, subsequent to the ruling, AIM was entitled to recover its full legal costs from the losing claimant, as ever recovery didn’t turn out to be straightforward. So, following the “bird in the hand” principle, we accepted their offer of part payment to close the account, unfortunately leaving AIM some £22,500 out of pocket.

As a post script, following the Jackson reforms (see AIM Newsletter 2013), introduced last year to curb legal costs, we, as defendants, have forfeited our ability to recover any of our costs from the losing claimant’s side. In exchange for that, the claimant’s solicitors are no longer able to double their charges as “success” fees and bill us, and are no longer able to recover the cost of their ATE (after the event) insurance which covers their costs in the event that they lose.

 

Lessons Learned – Location, Location, Location

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Lessons Learned – Common Sense Prevails

Common sense prevails in Court following a slip in a mining museum

Judge rejects claimant’s premise that because he slipped and sustained an injury on a visit to a heritage site, the site owner is to blame, and that it must have been due to “an act or omission by the defendant which it should reasonably have remedied”.

Clearwell Caves, a long standing member of the mutual, is a natural cave system which has been extensively mined for iron ore and operates now primarily as a mining museum, also providing caving activities. The caves are part of a Natural England designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.

This was a case brought by a retired publican who had slipped or stumbled and fallen whilst on a family visit to see the cave’s Christmas Fantasy Display. Although the claimant’s injury seemed slight at the time, it subsequently transpired that he had sustained a broken right ankle, from which he has made a more or less full recovery after 12 weeks in plaster.

The accident occurred in an underground passageway on a slight incline. Taking into account the damp conditions, the surface was covered by compacted ragstone gravel, recently replenished, providing a suitable non slip surface with drainage channels down each side. As is required by the Mines Inspectorate, there are recorded inspections of the mine’s walkways at least three times each day at no more than four hourly intervals.

The claimant’s expert, a Mr Petherick, argued that the mine, which is subject to Health and Safety at Mines Regulations 1993 and 1999, should also be subject to the Building Regulations and legislation covering buildings and constructed public places, such as sports stadiums and supermarkets.

The judge ruled that it was incorrect to equate a mine, with its inherent and unique character, with a supermarket or an office and that building regulations do not apply. He found that the ragstone gravel did indeed provide a suitable non-slip surface for the walkway in dry or wet conditions and that the mine’s recorded inspection and maintenance regime was systematic, regulations compliant and effective.

Comment

Common sense prevailed here in Court. Even in a case of little apparent merit, documented records evidencing risk assessment, good management and a regular inspection and maintenance regime are required to counter a claimant’s argument that because there’s an injury, the facility is to blame and compensation is due.