Slippery Steps: Analyzing Recent Student Injury

by The Cowl Editor on November 16, 2017


Addressing the Rumors Regarding the Stairs by Guzman Hall

by Sabrina Guilbeault  ’18

News Editor

Student Walking down Guzman Stairs
Photo Courtesy of Nat Rea

After a student’s injury earlier this semester, Dr. Steven Sears, dean of students, is currently accepting any reports regarding “slips and falls” that may occur on the new stairs by Guzman Hall. Although students have shared stories of friends slipping on the steps, no official reports have been made to the Office of Public Safety and Security within the last month.

“I heard from Dr. Sears about six weeks ago that a student had fallen on the stairs and he thought that it may have been due to the water on the stairs from a sprinkler head,” said Mark Rapoza, assistant vice president of Capital Projects and Facilities Planning at Providence College. He stated that upon hearing this news, his team readjusted the head so that it would not spray the stairs, but pointed out that the water from a sprinkler head would not create a different condition on the stairs as a rainy day.

“I have asked Public Safety to forward me any reports they may have regarding ‘slip and falls’ so that we can investigate further,” said Rapoza. He explained once he had the dates and times of any additional incident, he will be able to investigate what else may have been happening that could have caused the fall.

“Other than this one incident, I have not heard of any others.”

After interviewing Lt. Eric Croce from the Office of Public Safety and Security, it was made evident that within the last month, no official reports have been made regarding injury from the Guzman stairs.

Croce explained that he was not aware of any injuries near the steps and after going through the ARMS Records Management System (a database his office uses to track medical or injury reports), saw that the majority of injuries that have been reported have occured near Peterson, which he deems to be due to intramural sports.

“There’s no pattern jumping out,” Lt. Croce said. “We tend to catch patterns quickly in our chain of command, and if we saw something we would most certainly bring the report to Physical Plant.”

“Whether this is an issue or not, we will investigate to ensure that we do not have a potential trip hazard on these stairs,” said Rapoza, who stated the incident is still being looked into. “Once I have this information we will use the resources available to us to determine the cause and corrective action,” he said.

In general, the Campus Transformation Project, including the stairs by Guzman, has been well received by students. “Not only did we beautify that part of the campus, but we made it more functional and ADA friendly,” said Rapoza, who explained that the area between Accinno Hall and Guzman Hall was a challenge due to the steep grade of the topography.  “We not only had to design a stair pattern to accommodate the hill, but also design a way to allow those who may be mobility impaired to traverse that pathway,” he said.

An additional measure that was taken in the transformation project was applying a sealer all over campus on the new “exposed aggregate” concrete installations—including the area around the stairs. According to Rapoza, this sealer is applied to concrete after it is cured, and is used to “weather proof” and protect concrete. “It is non-slip,” said Rapoza. “In fact, the exposed aggregate concrete tends to be less slippery than the ‘broom finish’ as the aggregate gives footing a little more grab.”

After the interview in his office, Lt. Croce walked to the area around Guzman to investigate it. He pointed out the exposed aggregate of the walkway and explained it is actually good for walking, even in the rain.

Lt. Croce explained that students can contact either  the Office of Residence Life or the Department of Public Safety to report an injury or incident. During the night hours when EMTs are on campus, students with injury reports will often be evaluated by the EMTs. He explained that students are never forced to go to the doctor due to an injury, but it can be suggested. The only time students are mandated to go to the hospital is due to intoxication, and that is for their own safety.

“Please know that we will be looking into the reports of the ‘slip and falls’ on the stairs at Guzman Hall,” said Rapoza. As for more construction, according to Rapoza the College has completed two phases of the Transformation Project.  His office is currently working on future phases that will include new vehicular and pedestrian paths in front of St. Catherine of Siena Hall and Cemetery Lane to Chapel Way, and investigating opportunities for additional student parking.