Safety Regulations and Workers’ Compensation Options for School Teachers
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a set of recommended safety guidelines for schools. School officials don’t intentionally create unsafe conditions, but the hectic pace of everyday school business can mean safety issues are overlooked.
While states have the right to create their own safety standards, Texas has chosen a state plan to follow the OSHA’s recommendation. Under these guidelines, schools must have written plans, procedures, and safety assessments for potential hazards.
Common injuries for teachers can be caused by general workplace accidents like slip and falls or work-related trauma. They can also be caused by school-specific hazards such as workplace violence and experimental mishaps in the science department. However, no matter what causes the injury, teachers have a right to receive workers’ compensation (WC), especially when the cause was related to administrative negligence and OSHA regulation indifference.
With the alarming rate of school shootings—over 150 have occurred in the United States within the last decade—what was once considered a safe place to work is now a potential war zone for teachers, staffers, and students alike. As a result, OSHA has encouraged increased school security designed to reduce the chances of injury and raise awareness over who enters the school and why. These recommendations include:
- Entrance security. Entrances should be locked with doors can be opened from the inside but not the outside, and monitors or guards should be posted to verify visitor safety.
- Employee security and ID validation. Photo identification must be validated for all employees to prevent unauthorized personnel.
- Reception security. Schools must have designated reception areas where visitors must sign in and be escorted into the school. In addition to preventing potentially dangerous strangers to roam the halls, this can also prevent known aggressors (angry parents, personal assailants) from antagonizing staff.
Science Department Regulations
Although the dangers of school shootings and external violence has caught the attention of the nation, these aren’t the only potential dangers school teachers face. Due to the inexperienced use of chemicals, fire, gasses, and equipment, the science department is one of the most dangerous places in the school for teachers. To combat these threats, OSHA has created a set of standards specifically for this department. These include the requirement of:
- Proper labeling and storage of hazardous chemicals.
- Proper placement of pressurized gas containers.
- Proper shutoffs and signage for master gas valves as well as a ventilation system—windows, fan, ventilation hoods, etc.
- Proper placement and training of fire extinguishers.
- Proper placement, availability, and maintenance of protective equipment. Safety goggles, gloves, aprons, showers and eyewash stations must be provided and well-maintained for teacher and student use.
Unfortunately, when school administrators fail to follow OSHA and safety protocols, teachers like you can suffer the consequences.
Types of Dangers That Affect Teachers
Like any other workplace, schools are subject to liability for injured employees. If you’re hurt while on the job at a school, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation. which can help to pay for medical bills and time away from work due to the accident. If you’re affected by any of the following types of injuries, you may want to consider pursuing a workers’ compensation claim.
- Repetitive-use injuries. Teachers stand up for long periods of time, lift heavy objects around their classrooms, and use their hands constantly to write and grade assignments. All of these activities can cause injuries that can prevent you from working.
- Subject-related injuries. Gym teachers are prone to injuries that are the result of sports-related accidents. Chemistry teachers may become hurt because of exposure to caustic chemicals, and shop teachers risk injuries from power tools and heavy machinery.
- Slip and fall injuries. School hallways and staircases are slick and, due to budget cuts, custodians are not always available to clean up the messes students make. A teacher escorting a class or taking a quick bathroom break between classes can easily fall victim to slippery hazards.
- School violence injuries. More and more we hear of fights and other acts of violence that occur at school. Unfortunately, teachers are often caught in the middle of the altercations. When teachers break up fights or are the victims of violence, they’re at risk for traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, debilitating injuries, and even wrongful death.
Support and Guidance to Acing Your Workers’ Compensation Application
Teaching isn’t exactly known for on-the-job hazards; however, this profession isn’t entirely without risks. It’s sad to know that teachers work hard to make school a safe place for their students, but are often neglected by the school system when it comes to their safety.
Schools in Texas, public and private alike, are expected to comply with safety guidelines which eliminate some dangers caused by unsafe working conditions. However, when you suffer injuries as a result of these guidelines being neglected, whether you’re a full-time professor, grade school teacher, or substitute, you have options.
Contact attorney Steve Lee today if you have questions about how, when, or why to pursue a workers’ compensation claim. Don’t allow your employer to fail you—pick up the phone or click your mouse to schedule a FREE consultation, and get the A+ representation you need. After helping hundreds of hardworking victims receive the compensation their employment afforded, we have the experience and resources to help you.