“Accidents happen” is often used as shorthand for the idea that misfortune can be inevitable, however, while it is true that students are in the age group most prone to accidental injury, most accidents are preventable. At the same time, young people tend to think of accidents as things that happen to other people, but in fact, persons between the ages of 15 and 24 are the most significant risk group for accidental injury.
On campus, most accidents occur during program studies, where students are using potentially dangerous equipment such as knives, or are performing a strenuous activity on a regular basis.
“Despite best attempts to mitigate these risks, if you’re working with knives all day [it’s more likely] you’ll get a few nicks,” said TRU’s Safety and Emergency Services Manager Stacey Jyrkkanen.
Stress also accounts for a significant portion of student injuries.
“They get so worried and stressed that they forget to eat and they actually end up fainting,” Jyrkkanen said. “But the thing is, you don’t get to choose where you pass out, and you can end up hurting yourself.”
Jyrkkanen adds that students need to make sure to look after themselves, and that pushing your body too far only increases stress. The TRU Wellness Centre is an excellent resource for helping to cope with stress and anxiety while still making time to eat and rest.
Another common injury during the winter months is the slip-fall, which often occurs because people are distracted from their surroundings. “’Wexting’, or walking and texting, is part of this,” Jyrkkanen said. “You need to be aware of your surroundings, and of course wear the appropriate footwear.”
If you carry on a text conversation while walking, it is better to “pull over” to send a message, especially if it’s snowing or below freezing outside.
“The walking paths on campus are usually kept pretty clear,” Jyrkkanen notes proudly, but cautions that outside campus the sidewalks and paths are often more slippery, and that students should keep their wits about them when walking.
Distraction accounts for many injuries in the workplace as well. WorkSafe BC occupational safety officer Patrick Davie says removing the distractions can help you stay alert. “Even a momentary lapse of attention can cause injury,” he warned. “Make sure even if [the job is] repetitious that you concentrate on doing it right every time.”
Davie says that workers who don’t think they need to worry about accidents happening to them need to think in the long term. “Remember you’ll be in the [working] community for 40 plus years, working,” he said. Davie recommends that young workers can stay safe by educating themselves on prevention and safety measures, adding that “a lot of people don’t know what a valuable source of direction WorkSafe is,” and invites them to call their safety officer at the local office if they have any questions.