Volume 12, Number 12 February 18, 2005

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Caution urged to avoid slips & falls on campus

U of S Department of Health, Safety & Environment (DHSE) officials say the recent storms that dumped freezing rain and deep snow on Saskatoon were stark reminders that the local climate can cause treacherous conditions for walking on campus.

And they urge faculty, staff, students and visitors to be cautious when navigating steps, roadways and sidewalks on the University grounds in winter, to avoid injury from slips and falls.

slip & fall

The U of S is one of 10 large employers in the province which were asked last year by Saskatchewan Labour to launch initiatives to reduce injury rates by 20 per cent over the next four years.

In Canada in 1995-96, falls caused more hospitalizations than all other injury-related hospitalizations combined. In the U.S. and Canada, slips and falls are the second leading cause of accidental death after car accidents.

And DHSE Director Sunil Choubal says, “We know from our Workers’ Compensation Board statistics and accident reports that during winter months the number of slips and falls goes up.”

In fact, the statistics show that slip-and-fall injuries on campus are five times greater in winter than in summer.

Choubal gives credit to the University’s Facilities Management Division for its excellent work cleaning roadways, sidewalks and other surfaces quickly after blizzards. But he notes there can be lag-time when some areas have ice, snow or uneven surfaces.

And most importantly, he says, winter conditions call for people to take personal responsibility to be careful when walking.

“We live in a part of the planet where we have to deal with snow and ice, the risk of blizzards and the resulting slippery surfaces,” Choubal says.

“The University tries very hard to clear snow and to sand walkways, but it can’t do it all immediately.

“And regardless, slippery surfaces can be encountered at any time during the winter, so individuals must be careful.”

Choubal says slips and falls often occur when people are in a hurry. They should be aware of this and, in winter conditions, they should watch for icy patches as they walk.

DHSE’s Occupational Safety Manager, Fulton Briand, says people who want to ensure greater safety as they walk in winter could consider buying footwear that provides better traction on icy surfaces and in cold temperatures. For instance, he notes, outer soles made of leather, plastic and some foam-type materials are very slippery. Materials with better traction, and other safety feature such as deep grooves or cross-hatching on the bottom surface, will increase safety.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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