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Dealing with Accidents in School
Accidents in school are much more common than we often imagine. According to statistics from the injuries data base (IDB) of the Swedish national board of health welfare, an estimated 19000 accidents occur every year to children in the age range of 0-17 years on play grounds.
These accidents are often serious enough to require treatment at the emergency department. Of these accidents, 64% occur on school grounds while 36% occur on play grounds elsewhere. More boys are victims than girls in the same age range. Further analysis shows that fixed items such as play equipment, trees, fences and rocks are responsible for 50% of these accidents. Other causes include items brought to school or to the play ground by children or their parents like food and bicycles.
An accident can be defined as an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, usually resulting in damage or injury. On many occasions accidents happen under circumstances which are beyond any possible human control.
But at other times there may be preventable circumstances that can lead to injury. For example use of inappropriate material for play equipment, lack of regular maintenance, among others. This can portray an element of negligence on the side of school property owners. Some of such accidents could in fact be prevented if more attention and care is given to details especially on play grounds.
The common accidents that occur in school include;
- Food poisoning
- Slips, trips and falls
- Sporting accidents
- Lab accidents
Some of the accidents that are thought to be as a result of possible negligence include;
1. A maintenance worker leaves a ladder in the hallway, a student trips over it, falls and breaks a wrist.
2. Failure to provide adequate protective material for sporting activities where they are needed such as in gyms, football, and baseball.
3. Loose hand rails along the stairs which can cause a student to fall off the stairs and sustain injury.
Even a small water spill in the hallway or pothole on the playground can cause major injury. It is therefore important for all schools to put in place effective and reliable first aid measures to handle injuries that result from such accidents.
Remember first aid saves life and can potentially minimize damage and prevent a simple injury from causing irreversible damage. Teachers should receive regular training in basic first aid skills. Schools should encourage Red Cross clubs, as they are a fun method of learning basic first aid measures for common injuries.
Prevention of Accidents in School
Children at all ages are always active, playful, very curious and daring. This makes the task of policing children in school very challenging. For this reason, there is no sure way of completely eliminating accidents in school, but several steps can be taken to curb those which may be labeled as occurring due to negligence.
An industrial safety survey in the Great Britain made an attempt to study accident prevention, among school children. Their study found that the personal factor of carelessness was recognized to be far more responsible for injuries, than any other obvious risk such as unguarded machinery. This was found to be partly dependent on careless ignoring of risk. The other part was upon a definite predisposition arising from condition of ill health. The study found that there was no conclusive means provided for eliminating or avoiding accidents, other than a wide spread scheme of safety education.
Schools should be equipped with practical comprehensive up to date knowledge on safety guidelines which they must skillfully impart into the pupils and students on a regular basis, in means that are simple to understand and put into practice. To put this in effect, there are strategies that should be put into play such as;
> Employing accident prevention professionals to educate teachers on school safety guidelines. The professionals should be able to equip teachers with skills for identifying risk areas. The school should put up streamlined channels through which identified risk areas are reported and response should be prompt.
> The teachers should then include injury prevention education in lessons for various subjects as a way of passing on this knowledge to pupils and students.
> There is need to promote and advocate for risk management at school events.
> Parent - teacher council should set up a committee to regularly discuss safety at school and update their injury prevention data base.
> Set up displays about injury issues in various places( especially high risk places) around the school premises.
> Educators and parents should lead by example by following any safety guidelines put in place, so that students follow their lead.
Strategies for risk management include;
1. Appropriate choice of shock absorbing surfaces on play grounds such as coarse sand, impact absorbing pads or grass. These should be regularly maintained to avoid unnecessary unevenness.
2. The layout of play grounds should be such that there is adequate free area around all play items, with features such as barriers to prevent children running into the path of swings.
3. Students, parents and teachers should be encouraged to be keen on noticing potential risk of injury on play grounds and report to relevant persons to ensure that issues are handled before it is too late.
Injuries thought to be due to negligence
In situations where a child has suffered an injury that poses risk of some form of permanent disability, a parent may be entitled to compensation if the circumstances suggest negligence on the side of the school.
At times parents let the school owners off the hook with the notion that the accident was an incident of sheer misfortune ( and may times rightly so). Others on the other hand are simply unaware that they may in fact be entitled to some form of compensation.
If you feel that there may be an element of carelessness or negligence regarding the accident, you may be entitled to compensation and therefore need to make a claim.
As you prepare to make any claim, you must remember that you will need to prove that the school is responsible for causing the accident. You will need the services of a lawyer for proper legal evaluation. There are many school accident attorneys out there and you can even browse them up online, or you may consult your local authorities. Also remember that evidence disappears fast. So if you must make a claim, you should consult your attorney before it is too late.
© 2014 Ian Batanda