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Helping you keep safe in the cold

Tuesday, 2 May 2017 2:51pm

Slips collage image
Sensible shoes are one way people can help keep themselves safe in icy or slippery weather.

University of Otago Grounds staff gather up two truckloads of leaves – about 18 cubic metres – from the Dunedin campus every day in autumn to help prevent people from slipping over, but there is plenty people can do to help themselves in the cooler months as well.

“Grounds staff are doing their bit and we need to support them,” Health and Safety Compliance Head Andrea McMillan says.

She recommends wearing flat shoes with good tread, especially because many people are heading down hills to get to the campus.

Anyone wishing to go a step further safety-wise could get yaktrax to put over their shoes on frosty mornings, or wear woollen socks over their shoes, Health and Safety Advisor Nevan Trotter says.

Thousands of people use the campus, including people who come from countries with no winters, which makes safety messages particularly important.

"Grounds staff are doing their bit and we need to support them."

University of Otago Property Services Grounds Foreman Andy Birchall says the University is not alone in finding it is impossible to eliminate every potential hazard in bad weather, so it is important people help themselves to stay safe.

They should also report any slippery areas, and their actual slips and trips, to help pinpoint trouble spots.

Grounds staff spray about another 22,000 square metres of surfaces every year as well to get rid of slippery moss, mould and mildew.

The staff also spray surfaces with a further 3,000 litres of de-icing formula in the winter. That amount will increase by three or four times now the landscaping project is complete.

Grounds staff also repair potholes and loose paving stones, and deal with any other potential problems they come across - one staff member walked 60 kilometres in a week just doing his normal job. 

Because Grounds staff battle a host of variables – including severe weather and late frosts – large signs will be placed at campus entrances to warn when frosts have struck. Smaller signs will still be used in specific problem areas.

How to report slippery surfaces and actual slips and trips: