Schools and universities play a vital role within our society, and at Classic we are passionate about enhancing safety and access in the educational sector. A safe environment enhances the confidence of both students and staff, enabling them to achieve great results and develop a lifelong love of learning.
Last week the team at Classic Architectural Group were at Edubuild Sydney and had the opportunity to speak with a number of representatives from Universities, Schools and Tafes from around the country who shared our concerns about safety within and around their campuses.
Unfortunately; slips, trips and falls due to dirt and moisture are a common occurrence within these institutions. Depending on the severity, this can result in serious injuries, costly claims and significantly disrupt the learning process. It is possible to prevent many of these accidents from occurring by adopting a few simple safety measures and devices.
Statistics Around Trips and Falls
Slips, trips and falls are by far the most common injuries sustained in public places, especially workplaces. Between 2003-2015, slips, trips or falls resulted in the following injuries:
· Knee – 4,930 cases
· Ankle – 3,985 cases
· Back – Upper or Lower – 3,000 cases
Slips, trips and falls can cause damage ranging from minor cuts and bruises through to fractures, strains and dislocations. In approximately 56% of cases, these injuries are caused by environmental factors such as slippery floors due to moisture/spills, over polishing, rain and mud through to poorly designed walkways and lack of sufficient lighting.
Educational institutions are highly variable environments, with a wide range of ages and personalities in the one place. It is imperative that the built environment be made as safe as possible for the entire community.
Maximizing Safety for Students and Educators
At the start of a new academic year students are eager to learn their way around the campus, and this flurry of activity often results in a higher incidence of injury. Safe Work Australia require all PCBU’s (a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’) to eliminate risks “as far as is reasonably practicable”. If the risk cannot be eliminated entirely, minimization is the next best option.
The best way to maximise safety is by paying attention to building elements such as floors, stairs, lighting, drainage and storage. Many schools and institutions are largely made up of concrete outdoor areas, as well as vinyl or carpet for hallways and classrooms. These surfaces normally have quartz, recycled aggregates and other particles incorporated within them to improve traction and safety, but high foot traffic and wet weather can render them less effective and raise the risk of slips, trips and falls.
Choice of footwear is also important. Shoes with a deep sole tread pattern significantly improve grip in wet conditions. Leather and vinyl soles can be very slippery in wet conditions, whilst rubber and urethane soles provide solid grip in both wet and dry conditions. We recommend adopting clear guidelines for students/teachers, outlining appropriate footwear for all areas of your campus (e.g. kitchens, design rooms, playground etc).
Partnering with safety experts
Over the years, to ensure pedestrian safety and access within and outside the premises, Classic has worked closely with various educational institutions including Trinity Grammar School, Sydney Grammar School, Wilsonton State School, Adelaide High School, St. Mary’s Primary School, Brisbane Boys College, University of Melbourne, Sydney University and Monash university.
Backed with over 30 years of experience in developing products and solutions for pedestrian access and safety enhancement, the Classic team, has always helped with avoidance of slips and trips through its range of entrance matting and stair nosing products while enhancing access to visually impaired individuals through the application of Tactile Indicators.
Classic’s product range is designed with the specific needs of the education industry in mind. Some of the more popular products installed at schools and universities are –
8850 matting is a tried and tested system which combines a dual filament of crush-resistant polypropylene pieces with small nylon fibres. These materials work together to scrape and remove dirt/grit, in addition to absorbing any remaining moisture from the soles of students and teachers as they head inside. Trapped particles are hidden out of sight and are easily removed with the use of a vacuum cleaner.
This product is easy to maintain, has a variegated pattern for luxurious appearance, and has been rated to withstand foot traffic of 400,000+ people per year. It will ensure adjacent floors remain clear of debris/moisture, in addition to reducing your maintenance and cleaning costs and slip/fall risk. 8850 is supplied with a 7-year warranty for peace of mind.
Urban Modular – Plush Entrance Matting in Carpet Tile Format
Urban modular matting has quickly become one of the most popular choices in the education industry due to its heel-proof design, ease of install, affordability and contemporary appeal. Each tile is constructed from cut pile, dual weave non-static polyamide fibre for use in high-traffic environments for superior absorption of moisture and removal of dirt and grit.
The clear majority of stair accidents occur during descent and are usually caused by poor definition and/or poor slip resistance at the leading edge of the tread. PBD106 addresses both issues, as it features a ribbed polymer insert and is offered in a wide range of bright colours. The P5 high slip resistance rating and 5-year warranty make PD106 nosings an ideal choice for improving stair safety on carpeted/carpet tile stairs in schools and universities.
For hard surfaces, the aluminium nosing with hard-wearing grit insert is ideal. With carborundum insert, ramped back and short raked front, DKR104 is fully compliant to the industry standards and is highly effective in providing an excellent slip resistant surface for people moving around in the external area of the campus. Its design also makes it highly durable and it also comes with a 5 year warranty.
Reducing the risk of slips, trips and falls within the school or university environment requires collaborative effort on behalf of the school/university community in conjunction with smart design. We recommend the following risk reduction methods:
- Checking floors/stairs for signs of deterioration (e.g. lifting, cracking, chips) and establishing regular maintenance schedules, spill management response plans etc.
- Ensuring appropriate footwear is worn in certain areas of the campus.
- Installing high quality Entrance Matting, Stair Nosings and Tactiles around entrances and stairs to reduce water/dirt ingress and improve definition of stair edges and other hazards.
- Ensure adequate lighting
- Ensuring access to appropriate equipment (e.g. step ladders) to reduce temptation to use a chair/table which are fall risks.
Classic are the leading supplier of stair nosings and entrance matting to the education industry in Australia and New Zealand. If you have any safety concerns surrounding slips, trips or falls, please write to us today at email@example.com or call us at 1300 244 377. We’ll work with you to find a solution to reduce the ingress of moisture and dirt; keeping students, staff and visitors as safe as possible.