Work injuries among school employees

As a workers' compensation insurer serving 250 school districts, we've learned a lot about school employee injuries and how to prevent them.

Common injuries among school employees

According to SFM claim data, here are a few school employee injury statistics:

  • 40% of workers' compensation claims among school employees involve students
  • The most common student-related injuries are due to students acting out (64% of injuries related to student interaction)
  • The most common causes of injuries to school employees are due to being struck (34%), slips/trips/falls (27%) or strains (23%)
  • The most common injuries to school employees are fractures/contusions (59%), sprains/strains (23%), and punctures/lacerations (11%)

For more statistics, see our fact sheet on occupational injuries in schools.

Ways to avoid work injuries among school employees

There are a number of things school districts can do to prevent common employee injuries including:

  • Encourage staff to "Facilitate, don't participate"
    Participating in physical activities puts teachers, paraprofessionals and coaches at risk for serious injuries. Instruct staff to focus on demonstrating and teaching skills versus actively participating in play. Remind them that they are responsible for their own safety. Download our Facilitate, don't participate 3-Minute Solution for more details. 
  • Promote a hands-off approach to dealing with students who are acting out
    For more details, download our de-escalation team training talks for schools and alternative intervention and de-escalation tactics training talk.
  • Prevent winter slips and falls
    Snow- and ice-related slips and falls are a leading cause of school employee injuries. Remind your employees about the increased risk of slips and falls in winter, and how to prevent them with an educational campaign throughout the season. SFM offers a number of free winter slip-and-fall prevention resources.
  • Provide supervisor initiated training
    SFM offers free downloadable safety training talks for schools, broken down by job category (such as buildings and grounds, food service, etc.). These talks are simple and quick to present, and help keep the staff focused on safety.
  • Tell staff to get up and move
    Employees who stay in a static position all day long put themselves at greater risk for strain and sprain injuries. Encourage them to take short breaks throughout the day to move around. They can use this warm up and stretching poster for ideas of movements that will help them avoid strains.
  • Get fit and exercise
    Employees who work with their arms in front of them all day, such as food service workers, are at risk for shoulder injuries. SFM developed a program called Get Fit and Exercise, which focuses on shoulder strengthening to prevent injuries. Anyone can benefit from the program, but it's especially good for building and grounds crews and food service staff.

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