Since 1987, OSBIE has paid out millions in third party fall related claims. The majority of these injuries are usually the result of inadequate salting and sanding procedures during winter months. A smaller, but still significant number of claims occur on wet surfaces inside the building - the result of melting snow or rainy weather.
Often these claims could have been successfully defended if the school had maintained accurate documentation of their winter maintenance programs. In the absence of proper documentation, the courts will be less likely to accept that a school took all reasonable steps to prevent a hazardous situation.
Risk Management Recommendations:
- If an outside contractor has been hired to clear the snow, the contract should state clearly when snow removal is to be conducted, or when salting/sanding is to occur. The activities of outside contractors should be documented in a Maintenance Log Book.
- During the progress of a snowfall, a regular inspection of all walkways, parking lots and roofs should be conducted to monitor the build-up of ice and snow. The date/time of the inspection, and any corrective measures should be documented in a log book at the school.
- Place safety cones around entrance ways, internal stairs or any other areas which may be wet from snow tracked in from outside. Mop up excess moisture and dry as soon as possible.
- Ensure staff are provided for snow clearing activities that may be required for permit-holders using the premises after regular school hours.