Every employer has a duty to provide employees with suitable personal protective equipment or clothing to guard against exposure to health and safety hazards while they are at work. Risk assessments should also be carried out to identify any foreseeable risks faced by employees. When the job being done involves working outside in icy conditions, it is important that employees have suitable footwear, as a recent case shows.
A paramedic was called out to provide care to an elderly patient. Wintry conditions had been forecast, but no assessment of the risk posed to those braving the elements to provide emergency assistance was carried out by his employer. The man's footwear was unsuitable for staying safe in the prevailing conditions and he fell and injured himself when he slipped on a patch of ice.
The court found that it would have been relatively cheap for the paramedic's employer to have provided staff with anti-slip ice grippers to fit over their normal footwear. He was awarded compensation for his pain, suffering and loss of earnings.
As well as the duty to provide protective clothing and equipment, employers should also make regular inspections to ensure any defects are remedied immediately and training should be provided to anyone working in dangerous conditions on how to do so safely.