For the upcoming school season, many students, teachers, and staff will be returning to classrooms. As some states revert back to an indoor masking policy, teachers and parents are concerned about the return to school without masks. Many school staff are now focused on the air quality and sanitary conditions.
For teachers, it is more than the school’s heating, ventilation, and air condition (HVAC) system or sanitation, they can encounter many workplace hazards. Listed below are common injuries among teachers.
Gym teachers can incur athletic injuries during demonstrations. They can also fall in areas that are slippery, like the gym floors, locker rooms, and bathrooms.
Those working in laboratories, such as chemistry and biology, may have to use dangerous chemicals while teaching students. Unhealthy exposure to chemicals may also worsen medical conditions.
Special education teachers may be at risk if they have students that are prone to injuring themselves or others. These teachers need to be more prepared for potential risks.
Schools have many areas that can cause slip and fall accidents. With students running around in the halls or stairs and slippery surfaces, the risk of a slip and fall accident is significant.
The cafeteria might be the largest room in the school, with students in close proximity, which can be dangerous because of slippery surfaces, sharp objects, and disturbances among students.
The gym involves students doing various exercises and playing games, which can increase heart rates and test the agility of the teachers. Students are not the only ones who can fall and injure themselves. Teachers can become injured at the gym.
Hallways are often crowded during class changes, with open locker doors as students access their books and belongings. When there are more individuals in a smaller place, injuries may increase.
Junior and senior students can drive and park at the school. In almost every level of school, children may be driven and picked up by parents in cars. There are also school buses that drop off and pick up students. Some schools rely on police officers to monitor these areas, and others have teachers assisting with monitoring vehicles, especially in the bus zone. A teacher may be injured by a vehicle, or they might slip and fall if there are poor weather conditions, such as sleet, snow, or excessive rain. A slip and fall injury can lead to a broken bone or a serious sprain.
A teacher can become injured due to standing for a long period of time. Standing can cause back, neck, and even hip injuries. Sitting for a prolonged period of time can be dangerous as well. When sitting, a teacher’s chair should properly support them, and their computer should be situated on their desk to reduce muscle strain.
Out of all Workers’ Compensation claims by teachers, repetitive stress injuries are the most common. Most teachers repeat the same physical movements, including writing on chalkboards, computer activity, grading papers, among other activities. Repetitive stress injuries usually do not manifest themselves for some time, leading to carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis.
Routine maintenance includes changing air filters, cleansing surfaces, and cleaning out storage areas. Some toxins are found in older schools with asbestos floor tiles and pipe wrappings. While undisturbed asbestos does not necessarily pose a problem, harmful exposure is a possibility. There is also a risk of an occupational illness.
The National Foundation for Educational Research determined that one in five teachers feel stress when they are on-duty at school. Emotional stress can build over time and result in other maladies, including burnout, anxiety, depression and even substance abuse. Stress needs to be managed in a healthy way. The risk of emotional injury can impact the teacher’s well-being and their ability to perform their tasks at the highest professional level.
School is supposed to be a safe space for students and teachers. The school and its classrooms are oases for learning. Schools are not designed to distance students from their teachers and fellow students. With social media accessibility, there are added components of cyberbullying and online media conflicts.
Teachers can be injured as they insert themselves in violent situations to separate students to end the conflict. Teachers can also be the target of student threats or violent acts. Violence involving teachers in schools is not an infrequent event. According to a U.S. Department of Education survey conducted in 2015 and 2016, 10 percent of teachers said they were threatened with injury by a student.
The risk of injury in a violent situation is real. A workplace injury can be physically and emotionally traumatic. The level of harm is heightened for teachers who are usually not involved in fights and confrontations. Many schools train administrators or specialty teachers on effective and safe interventional tactics and approaches.
Our experienced Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. believe every teacher deserves a workplace that is free from risks. If you are a teacher and were injured on the job, we can fight on your behalf. Call us at 412-765-1888 or complete our online form for a free consultation. We are located in Pittsburgh, and we proudly serve clients throughout Western Pennsylvania, including Allegheny County, Lawrence County, and Washington County.