Imperial College aims to provide a complete and uninterrupted educational service to all of its students throughout the year, as well as a safe working environment for all of its staff. In addition, the University operates a residential accommodation business which must be maintained. To this end it will be the aim of the University to continue to provide these services in all weather conditions, including periods when there may be extreme ice and snow.
Safety of staff and students must be the priority of all services.
In the event of snow and or freezing conditions:
- Imperial College will not normally close.
- All staff should attempt to get to work, if it is possible and safe to do so.
- Any staff unable to get to work must communicate the reasons for this to their line manager.
- In the case of adverse weather developing during a working day, line managers are expected to communicate with their staff and have the discretion to allow staff to leave work early to ensure that they are able to arrive home safely.
The College has a duty to take all reasonable steps to protect the safety of staff, students and visitors to the campus and to satisfy legal requirements for a safe and effective system of snow and ice clearance. It is the policy of the Estates Operations Division to maintain safe access to buildings as far as is reasonably practical. In extreme weather conditions it may not be possible to undertake full clearance of snow and ice from areas detailed in this policy as staff may be unable to get to work. Although every effort will be made to ensure that building entrances are kept clear, it must be appreciated that should the temperature fall below minus 8° Celsius, even salt is ineffective at preventing ice build-up. Additionally rain can wash salt off hard areas, leaving them prone to re-icing. In this event, the Estates Operations team will wait until the rain has stopped before re-treating the areas.
Our current insurer advises that there are a number of considerations when dealing with roads and paths that are contained within, and form part of, the common areas of the College premises. As the owner of the sites, a College will have a duty of care under the Occupier’s Liability Act 1957 to "take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purpose for which he is invited or permitted to be there". This includes students and staff as well as visitors to the site. Although there are no test cases at present for a snow and ice claim against an educational establishment where someone has fallen on a path or road, if the College is aware of any specific hazards, it is likely that a Court would expect some action to have been taken to minimise the risk.
It is also important to note that if the College were to clear, grit or salt a public right of way and do so badly, a liability may be incurred, resulting in the College being in a worse position than if no action at all had been taken.