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Posts Tagged ‘Teacher Injuries’

Understanding Potential Teacher Risks During the Back-to-School Season

Teacher RiskIt’s that time of year. Office supply stores and Target have dedicated aisle after aisle to binders and crayons and backpacks, and teachers are back in the classroom, putting the final touches on their lesson plans and making sure that their classrooms are color-coordinated and ready. We all think of teachers as underpaid heroes, but few of us are aware that their profession is among the most at-risk of on-the-job injury and illnesses.  Not only do a large percentage of our schools represent unhealthy environments that put teachers at risk of toxic exposure, but teachers are facing new challenges that may lead to workers’ compensation claims, including the risk of injury caused by interactions with their students.

The top causes of teacher workers’ compensation claims in the United States include:

  • Slip and fall accidents –30% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims
  • Being struck –27% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims
  • Strain injuries –24% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims
  • Cut, puncture or scrape – 5% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims
  • Exposure to toxins – 5% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims

Beyond the same types of slips, trips, and strains that are seen in almost every work environment, the other major on-the-job-injury risk that teachers face comes from violence in the classroom or on campus. Roughly 25% of school employee injuries arise from interactions with students, and experts say that teachers are victimized far more frequently than the public realizes — in fact, they have indicated that the problem has reached the level of being a national crisis. A report issued by the Department of Education in 2015 indicated that injuries suffered by teachers led to more than $2 billion in losses included both lost workdays and workers’ compensation benefits.

Teachers are also exposed to a number of toxins in their classrooms, but the most concerning is the risk of exposure to asbestos. Most of America’s school buildings were constructed prior to the 1970s, and that means that asbestos-contaminated products were used in their construction. Asbestos ceiling and floor tiles and asbestos insulation are extremely common, and though they are not a concern when they are intact, as soon as those items begin to break down, there is a risk of microscopic asbestos particles being inhaled or ingested and leading to an increased risk of malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other asbestos-related diseases. Other toxic exposures in schools include mold, mildew, and lead.

There are a number of actions that school districts can take to guard against the most common workplace injuries, including:

  • Promoting a hands-off approach to situations where students are acting out
  • Preventing winter slip-and-falls, and similar accidents caused by slippery floors, debris in the hallways or lunchrooms, etc.
  • Encouraging teacher fitness to minimize the risk of strains

If you are a teacher or school employee who has suffered an on-the-job injury, contact us to set up a free consultation to discuss your rights.