Slip and falls top the charts of most school district’s work comp claims. They walk over the same surfaces as the rest of us, so why do teachers have such a high percentage of slip and fall claims? There are several contributing factors in slip and falls at schools – uneven surfaces, damaged and worn stairs, low lighting, liquids on the floor, and many more.
Recently, I was task with figuring out how to lower the number and cost of claims for a large Southern California district. I studied the numbers, the dollars and even went to several school sites to seek out hazards. It was the similar to any other school, so what was causing all of these issues?
Then it hit me as I watched teachers escorting their students to and from the playgrounds, to classrooms, and to the lunch room.
Teachers walk backwards a lot. That’s right, they walk backwards so they can keep an eye on their class and continue teaching while walking from point A to point B. This simple act of walking backwards is not something that many other campus employees do. Teachers do it all the time. If there is a little hazard in the sidewalk; walking backwards will make it a big issue in a hurry.
One way to find out if this is an issue with your teachers is to record the direction of travel on all work comp investigation/accident forms. The better way to do it is to have your teachers walk normally about 3/4 the way back of the student line.