Winter Weather Brings to Light Seasonal Safety Issues

With the winter weather here, the UBCO Facilities Management Department are being kept busy with keeping the outdoor walkways and parking lots free of ice and snow to prevent slips and falls. Slips and falls are major cause of injury not only on the UBC campus but also in all parts of the city.

When the snow hits Facilities Management personnel jump into action, sweeping away snow from walkways and parking lots while depositing ice melt and sand. Areas are prioritized according to high traffic areas, terrain (stairs, inclines, etc.), and areas with a history of incidents/accidents. Facilities Management personnel will also immediately respond to reports slippery areas. Contact the Facilities Management office at 250-807-9272 or to report slippery areas.

Using these strategies Facilities Management is able to manage much of the hazards brought on by ice and snow but it is impossible to cover all areas. The departments of Health Safety and Environment and Facilities Management would like to highlight strategies pedestrians can use to prevent falling victim (no pun intended) to slippery conditions. We have all heard of winterizing our cars and our driving habits but what about winterizing our walking habits. Here are a few tips to help you stay upright during the winter season:

1.  Adjust your gait. Shorten your stride length to keep your centre of gravity more within your base of support (feet). Also, walk with your knees slightly bent. Locking your knees reduces your ability to adjust to a slip. When turning avoid sharp turns.

2.  Slow down. Take slow, deliberate steps and be on the lookout for icy spots. Place your whole foot down at once shifting your weight slowly to this foot before stepping with the other foot.

3.  Balance your load. Consider donning a backpack. Backpacks keep your load closer to your centre of gravity and more within your base of support. Carrying heavy items in your hands hinders your arms’ ability to provide balance when you do slip. You need your arms free to help you recover your balance if you start to slide. Do not walk with your hands in your pocket for this very same reason.

4.  Wear appropriate footwear. Footwear with a thick rubber or non-slip sole is recommended. Avoid wearing heels and footwear with minimal tread.

5.  Entering/exiting your vehicle – Take care when stepping into/out of your car as you are usually off balance and on only one foot. This increases your chance of slipping. Consider carrying a bag of sand in your vehicle that you can sprinkle on the ground before exiting the vehicle.

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