School Accidents

Making Schools Safe For Teachers

School is supposed to be a completely safe environment, protecting the nation’s children against harm. But what about the safety of those who work in schools, and just how safe are our educational establishments?

Every environment has its hazards

Even in the relatively safe environment of the classroom, there are hazards. Over the last three years, school staff in one area of the UK – Sunderland and County Durham – have won almost £300,000 in injuries compensation claims. If you then consider that this is just one small area of the country, you can estimate just how many accidents that result in compensation payouts occur across the UK every year.

Of that small sample area, the largest payout was for one of the more modern working illnesses – stress. Other claims were for injuries sustained from lifting heavy furniture, trips, slips and falls, injuries caused by falling objects and even a back injury caused by overstretching to secure a roller shutter.

The National Union of Teachers, quick to dismiss recent press reports of seemingly trivial incidences, has stressed that its members and the union itself only pursue claims where it is clear that an employer has been negligent. And this in itself is probably the most important consideration. Whilst many councils (and privately owned schools) meet strict health and safety guidelines concerning the safety of the children, teachers’ employers must also realise that this duty of care also extends to the adults who work within the education system. A less than stringent approach to maintaining a safe working environment for teachers and staff should be treated in the same way as within any other working environment – swiftly and with the full force of the law.

Training Teachers

Teaching is more than just a job; it’s a vocation. Those who go into teaching don’t do it for the money, but that does not give those who run the schools the right to assume that conditions should be any less safe as a result. Teachers and school staff have the same rights as everyone else, including the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. This means that those who run the schools – the local council, education authority and, in some cases, commercial enterprises – have a duty of care to all members of staff to protect them from unnecessary and preventable accidents.

Something as simple as a wet floor can cause a serious injury. If that wet floor does not have a warning sign in place, the school could be held responsible for any injury as a result, including injuries to teachers or staff. Making staff aware of their responsibilities to avoid creating potentially dangerous situations is a matter of training and instruction, but it is also a matter of instructing those who run our schools to treat them in the same way that any other employer treats their working environment.

Mention ‘accidents at work’ to most people and the last environment most would even contemplate as being hazardous would be a school. But in the same way that factories and workshops have the potential to house dangerous situations, so do schools. And those who work in schools and colleges have exactly the same rights as every other worker in the UK. The money spent on compensating injured teachers could be put to far better use improving the overall educational standards of the UK’s schools. Perhaps it is about time that accidents in supposedly ‘safe’ environments were taken a little more seriously, and that health and safety legislation designed to protect workers in other occupations was given the same gravitas in schools.

Suffered an injury working in a school? Call the Work Accident Solicitors

If your employer fails to discharge their legal duty of care towards you, you may find that you are eligible to claim compensation. The Work Accident Solicitors could help you win deserved compensation, so:

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