Developing a Policy:

A defined policy is necessary to utilize the “policy defense” in the event of a slip and fall on a municipally-owned sidewalk. A reasonable effort to prevent slips, trips and falls is required in order to prevent liability. Elements that should be included in a sidewalk inspection and maintenance policy include:
● The responsible department
● An outline of the type of deficiencies that will be addressed
● Frequency and method of inspections
● The system of classification for prioritizing repairs or replacements

It is common to assign priority of repairs based on:

● Age of sidewalk
● Users (seniors, disabled persons, schoolchildren, inline skaters etc. should be a higher priority)
● Accumulations of water/ice
● Amount of traffic
● Degree of elevation change/separation/damage
● Areas where complaints have been received.
● A process to receive, record and respond to complaints
● A system of record-keeping for inspections, corrective actions taken or reasons for not taking action
● An incident recording, reporting and record retention process for incidents that occur on sidewalks
● Guidelines for enforcing your bylaw (if one exists) requiring adjacent property owners to remove ice and snow from sidewalks
● Specific provisions regarding other pedestrian hazards such as snow removal, tree roots, obstacles and awnings.

Documentation:

Sidewalk Inspection and Maintenance should be documented adequately and regularly to limit legal liability. Always maintain accurate documentation of:
● inspection and maintenance forms
● prioritized repairs
● procedures for repair methods
● repairs schedule
● citizen complaints and municipal response to the complaint
● reports of incidents of injuries or damage alleged due to poor maintenance

Incident Reports
Additional information that may be included for slip, trip and fall injuries include:
● Type of footwear worn
Weather conditions at the time of the accident and prior
● Time of day and level of lighting at the time of the injury
● Recent loss control initiatives taken (such as repairs or signage)
● Photographs of the site from several angles with the date and name of the person taking the photographs (if appropriate)
● The direction of movement and intent of the injured person

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