Ad­vice of­fered on deal­ing with win­ter

The Church of England - - NEWS - By Amaris Cole

A NA­TIONAL church in­surer is urg­ing churches to con­sider their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for man­ag­ing snow and ice on church prop­erty.

Con­gre­ga­tional and Gen­eral In­surance stress the im­por­tance of ful­fill­ing obli­ga­tions, such as clear­ing path­ways and grit­ting the area well.

Lisa Brough at Gor­dons LLP, a law firm used by Con­gre­ga­tional, said: “There is no straight­for­ward an­swer for ev­ery sce­nario, how­ever it is worth­while dis­pelling one ur­ban myth.

“Many oc­cu­piers of church prop­erty be­lieve they are not li­able if they don’t clear snow from paths, or if they do and some­one falls then they are li­able. This is sim­ply not true.

“In fact, the Oc­cu­piers Li­a­bil­ity Act 1957 con­fers a duty on oc­cu­piers to take such care as is ‘rea­son­able’ to en­sure that vis­i­tors will be ‘rea­son­ably’ safe when us­ing the premises.”

Th­ese vis­i­tors in­clude em­ploy­ees; even though a church may em­ploy just one or two peo­ple, it is still re­spon­si­ble for their well­be­ing in icy weather.

Ms Brough con­tin­ues: “Some churches may only open their gates once a week to a small con­gre­ga­tion.

“In th­ese cir­cum­stances, it would be un­rea­son­able to ex­pect the church to re­move ev­ery piece of snow and ice, but a path into the church of at least one me­tre in width cleared and grit­ted well be­fore vis­i­tors ar­rive may suf­fice.”

Work­place Reg­u­la­tions mean busier churches must en­sure safety of the walk ways in good time for the ar­rival of vis­i­tors and staff.

Miss Brough re­cently dealt with a case fol­low­ing the heavy snow where a vis­i­tor parked her car on the drive­way lead­ing into the Church, choos­ing to park in a space where the car boot over­hung an icy patch.

The vis­i­tor re­moved items from her car boot on two oc­ca­sions, so must have been aware just how icy it was un­der­foot, but half an hour later the vis­i­tor came out, went back to her car boot and slipped, sus­tain­ing a nasty frac­ture.

This claim was re­pu­di­ated, but the Church did noth­ing to clear its drive­way at all, which might have pre­vented the very se­ri­ous in­jury.

Con­gre­ga­tional and Gen­eral said: “Some­times, it does not take much to pre­vent in­jury by slip­ping on snow and ice – just a quick thought as to who might be vis­it­ing and when and what might be the best way to en­sure their safety is some­times all it takes.”

Mar­garet Slater, mar­ket­ing man­ager at Con­gre­ga­tional & Gen­eral, said: “The win­try con­di­tions means we sim­ply want to re­mind all churches to take the time to think about pro­tect­ing their vis­i­tors.”

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