Council bans strimmers over health and safety fears

If councils want to prevent all accidents, they’ll need to ban golf and Christmas too

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dirty hand spraying weed killer on weeds

Cheshire East Council has banned its workers from strimming the grass and weeds on verges around some of the poshest parts of the North West. Apparently, despite the fact that most homeowners have a strimmer tucked away in the shed, professionals can't be trusted with them, and risk firing debris at locals and their expensive cars.

The council, which covers a smart band of Cheshire that's popular with footballers, had previously recommended strimmers for public areas where lawn mowers couldn't reach. However, according to the Stoke Sentinel, it has decided that this approach is too dangerous. Instead, workers will be expected to use weedkiller.

According to the Daily Mail, a council spokesperson said: "In urban areas, cutting grass around trees and street furniture on grass verges can present risks such as flying stones and debris which could hit our workforce, pedestrians, parked cars or property. In response to a number of near misses, we now weedspray around trees and street furniture instead of strimming, in order to neatly maintain these very small areas."

It's not known how serious these 'near misses' were, although a freedom of information request to the council in 2011 revealed that in the previous five years, the council had paid for repairs to three properties as a result of damage caused by mowers and strimmers.

It may seem like an over-reaction, but councils are understandably concerned about any potential risk, which could lead to an expensive claim. They face so many compensation claims each year that it's easy to see why they would try to shut down any activity they think could lead to a claim.

Council risks

Clearly strimmers need to be used with care, especially when they are near gravel or stony areas, as they can cause debris to take flight at speed. It's why it's sensible to strim wearing protective gear, and to ensure people are prevented from walking nearby when the work is being carried out.

Cheshire East Council may have decided that it's a safer bet to ban the equipment altogether. However, any council considering a similar ban should bear in mind that council employees seem to be able to get into difficulties with all kinds of everyday objects.

If we were to stop everything that has generated an injury claim for a council, it would mean these five unexpected bans:

Toilet lids: a Bradford Council employee was awarded £12,000 after being hit by the lid when flushing.
Golf: a Glasgow council employee received £644 for damage caused to their vehicle by a golf ball.
Cream cakes: a Ceredigion County Council staff member was awarded £16,500 after slipping on a cream cake.
Baked beans: a worker at Gwynedd County Council was awarded £3,500 after injury their back while carrying six tins of beans.
Christmas: a Dacorum Borough Council worker received £289 after being hit in the face with a Christmas tree.

But what do you think? Is a ban the only safe approach, or should professionals have the skills required to ensure they work safely? Let us know in the comments.

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