Cold Snap Means Using Your Snow Sense

January 13, 2020 | News

SafeCare BC’s Jen Lyle identifies some ways to prepare for the hazards of this latest snowfall and cold snap

— January 13, 2020 —

Burnaby, BC – With Environment Canada warning the extreme chill of winter will continue to hold BC in its frozen grip this week, SafeCare BC—the non-profit association working to ensure injury free, safe working conditions for the more than 28,000 continuing care workers in BC—is encouraging its members, workplaces and those visiting loved ones in care to use their ‘snow sense’ in tackling the white and icy stuff over these next few sub-zero days ahead, and throughout the winter.

Most local care operations have anticipated the cold snap and are already on snow shovel and sanding duty, but there are plenty of unique ways member organizations are winter-proofing to keep staff safe and healthy as the thermometer dips.

Tread Safely

Bayshore Home Health has compiled a list of the best slip-resistant footwear for home care workers, as tested by the website Rate My Treads. Most of these options are available at retailers such as Mark’s Work Wearhouse, where Bayshore employees get a 10% discount on their footwear purchase.

Bayshore also works to raise awareness of its staff members on how to stay safe during winter weather. This includes sharing information on how to drive in poor conditions, like practical tips on preparing for the trip, ensuring the vehicle is safe to drive, and what to do if someone encounters snow or heavy rain. They also leverage Alberta Health Services’ “Walk Like a Penguin” resources, which offer simple but effective tips on how to traverse the snow and ice.

The Penguin Walk

Walk Like a Penguin (Video)

Drive Carefully

West Vancouver’s Loving Home Care Services uses its text messaging system to send out notifications to staff when the weather turns poor. They keep their message simple and succinct, focusing on raising awareness among staff to take care in the conditions, and what supports they have available to them. For example, their most recent message included tips on using GPS tools to track their trip times and get real-time updates on the bus schedules so they can plan their routes according to the conditions. Loving Home Care also supports its workers to stay safe by covering cab fare costs if a care worker is going to be more than 30 minutes late to an appointment because of the conditions.

“Slips and motor vehicle accidents account for over 25% of the injuries in home care, and we know the winter weather makes things more challenging,” says Jen Lyle, CEO of SafeCare BC. “The good news is that over the past five years, the injury rate for our members in home care has declined 19 percent. Staying ever-vigilant and care aware is key to getting these numbers down.”

Lyle reminds everyone that it’s important to adjust to the conditions. “Winter weather is here. Make sure you’re taking steps to keep yourself and those you work with safe.”

For organizations looking for more resources on safe travelling practices, Road Safety at Work has a section on winter driving tips for home care organizations, including this information sheet.