Educators are at higher risk of being injured at work but Baltimore City teachers see an even higher risk of injury
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Surprising to many, the risk of being injured on the job can be higher for those in the education field. A Baltimore Sun article from February 2014 notes higher rates of injury among Baltimore City school staff when compared to the employees of any other city agency except the Police Department. At first glance the shocking $49 million dollar workers compensation expense to Baltimore City is quite surprising however further thought and investigation can provide some explanation.
As the article points out the bill does include the insurance premiums, payment to the insurance third party administrator, investigation expenses, and fees to the insurance defense team. What is left can be attributed to payments to the Maryland injured worker for lost wages and medical expenses.
First, consider the atmosphere to which teachers are exposed on a regular basis. As the bells ring between classes the halls become flooded with students, students that are eager to get to the next classroom on the other end of the building or students anxious to get home after a long day of learning. Think back to high school when the halls were filled with students, often pushing when confronted with a shoulder to shoulder scenario. It s not hard to imagine a teacher losing balance and falling on the very hard hallway floors and injuring their back. Also, consider the chances of an occasional fight breaking out in the cluttered hallways between students- perhaps high school students who are often much larger and stronger than their educators. Teachers may feel obligated or be required to intervene in the event of an altercation.
The occupation itself can be high risk and perhaps down right dangerous in some schools. Over the last decade we have seen an increase of school violence and as this violence rate increases the risk of work injuries increase. I do not suspect Baltimore City Schools are an exception to the increased rates of violence among the national education system. Unlike statistics on severity of the violence, rates of violence do not seem to be specific to any particular age group which means that even elementary teachers are going to be susceptible to being injured on the job. Consider a class of 30 students, these could be high school age, or elementary age, regardless there is one teacher in a room with 30 students and it is not unimaginable to consider one student in 30 having a behavior issue which will at some point lead them to act out in a manner which places the teacher at risk of injury.
Further considering should be directed towards the job duties of teachers which is quite static most of the day. They are required to stand for an extended period of time during the day which could reasonably lead to orthopedic conditions involving the back or knees. When they are not standing they could be preparing exhibits which could lead to potential abrasions, burns, or cuts. Also consider the task of having to decorate a classroom for a more effective learning environment. Moving books around and hanging artwork or assignments could lead to any form of injury, possible provoked by a fall off of a ladder or a strain from picking up a stack of books.
The risk of being injured at work can vary widely among occupations however it is not always clear as to which occupations carry an apparent risk. Teaching is certainly a prime example of a profession with risks of injury that are often overlooked.
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