Why do Teachers slip and fall more than other employees

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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.

 

2 thoughts on “Why do Teachers slip and fall more than other employees

  1. Hey Steve,

    I must opine. There’s nothing wrong with walking backward. It’s a part of many jobs. The key to avoiding injury is understanding the elements of the task and the environment in which that task needs to be performed.

    Workers need to ask themselves is there anything in my path of travel, like wet floors, poles, or anything that can poke me? Do I have the necessary equipment (proper footwear!) to safely perform my task?

    Human error elimination is the key to preventing these injuries. And, it starts with information (training). Teachers are not allotted time for safety training as most in-services are curriculum based. Until school administrators truly understand just how much insurers are paying out on teacher claims (special ed comes to mind), they will always be behind the 8-ball when it comes to controlling workers’ compensation costs.

    -Uncle Bob

  2. Hey Steve:
    Teachers (certificated staff) are the majority of the school district workforce, and yes STFs tend to dominate in terms of teacher injury causation. So on the surface it appears they’re suffering from this type of injury more often then other school occupations. But once the rate of injury per 1000 employees is taken into account, classified staff experience far higher injury rates. Going a little further in the weeds, I found certificated staff have 10 STF injuries/1000 employees whereas classifieds have 19 STF injuries/1000 employees. I find this same sort of skewed impression within the healthcare industry where it appears nurses get injured more often, but that’s only because they make up the majority of the workforce, just like teachers do.

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