New Nova Scotia Power training tool aimed at preventing slips, trips and falls

Ryan MacBurnie shows off the shoe slider that Nova Scotia Power hopes will help prevent workplace accidents. Ashley Field/Global News

Nova Scotia Power is hoping a lesson in walking will help prevent slips, trips and falls.

The electricity provider recently purchased a “traction trailer,” a mobile course teaching students proper form when it comes to walking. Students wear a harness and shoe sliders and attempt to walk along a glass floor with various obstacles for an added challenge.

“When students first get on, I get them to walk normal, just like they would every day, and most people will slip and slide,” said Ryan MacBurnie, a Nova Scotia Power safety specialist.

“Then we get into the coaching part of it where I get them to walk as I want them to, which is good posture, flat-footed, and you can see the transformation. People really see that it’s a simple concept but it makes a lot of sense and it really helps.”

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Nova Scotia Power says students will wear these shoe sliders as they attempt to walk along a glass floor with various obstacles. Ashley Field/Global News

Since February, the company has been training its more than 2,000 employees across the province, from line workers to those working in the office. The goal is to have each and every one trained by December.

“I get them to carry bags. I get them to maybe text with one hand in their pocket — which we do, which we shouldn’t,” said MacBurnie.

“It’s just to show people that they should have their mind on task when we’re walking in these conditions.”

‘There was a definite need’

Last year, more than half of the company’s reportable safety incidents were attributed to slips, trips and falls.

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“We did see an increase in slip, trip and fall injuries, and that’s why this training really came about,” said MacBurnie.

“With the winters we’ve been having here in Nova Scotia, it’s been challenging with the freeze, thaw, rain, snow so there was a definite need.”

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Slips, trips and falls have proven costly across the province.

More than 1,000 Nova Scotians were injured seriously enough to require time off work following a slip, trip or fall last year, according to the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia.

That type of injury accounted for nearly 20 per cent of all time-loss claims across the province, with each claim resulting in an average 61 days off work and costing more than $6,000 in benefits.

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Nova Scotia Power says this “traction trailer” was designed for UPS Services in the U.S. and that this is the first one in Canada. Ashley Field/Global News

First ‘traction trailer’ in Canada

The trailer was originally designed in the U.S. for UPS, a package delivery and supply chain management company, after the American firm noticed an increase in the number of slips, trips and falls.

“We’re the pioneers as far as this training goes. We have the only mobile unit thus far in Canada so I think it’s really going to take off,” said MacBurnie.

He says other industries and businesses have already taken note and hope to get in on the training next year.

“We are going to take it to market and, hopefully, we’ll get a lot of people that take the training and a lot more people that are going home safe.”

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