We often overlook the physicality required of teachers and educators but leading a classroom certainly isn’t a desk job. Teachers spend long hours standing as they lecture and more time on their feet as they detail concepts on a chalk or whiteboard. There is a lot of reaching to point out earlier information or write new concepts, and an equal amount of bending to become level with students in their desks. By the end of the day, teachers have spent significant time moving, walking, and standing.
The physical demands of teaching can keep people fit and healthy. It also prevents certain injuries and illnesses associated with long periods of sitting or typing, but New Jersey employees at schools and universities are still prone to workplace injury.
In this post, the Law Offices of Albert J. Talone takes a look at the most common injuries to befall teachers and educators in New Jersey.
Impact on the Back
The workplace injuries to New Jersey employees working as teachers are more dispersed and varied than some other professions. A study on teachers in Australia found that educators were just as likely to suffer injury or pain in their hands and fingers as their ankles. However, one type of injury stood out in this study and those performed in the United States – injuries to the back were far more common than any other part of the body.
Teachers are constantly lifting books, straining to reach the corner of a whiteboard, and pointing to students with raised hands. These sudden movements and intense twists are likely to result in strains, sprains, and spasms in the back. These injuries commonly impact both the muscles and tendons in the back, with New Jersey employees in education impacted equally by these two types of back problems.
As well, prolonged lower back pain is a frequent complaint of New Jersey employees in education. This issue comes from long hours spent standing, as does another set of common injuries to the feet and ankles.
Pressure on the Feet and Ankles
Workplace injuries to the feet and ankles represent roughly 15% of all workplace injuries afflicting teachers and educators. A majority of these injuries arise from long days spent standing in front of a classroom or pacing between students’ desks. Specifically, the pressure of long hours can cause inflammation of the veins in the feet and ankles, swelling of the lower legs, and even tingling in the lower extremities.
Although, standing isn’t the only issue impacting feet and ankles. Teachers frequently trip and fall while pacing the classroom or hallways. Attention is often on students or instruction, rather than the ground, which means even a minor obstruction can lead to a major fall, twisted ankle, sprained foot, or broken toe.
Risk of Illness or Odd Injury
Teachers and educators are also at risk of injuries to the hands, neck, shoulders, and hips from their day-to-day responsibilities. As reoccurring and constant requirements of the job cause these workplace injuries, it is hard for teachers to recover and fully heal when a shoulder, neck, or hip injury occurs.
Then there is an entire subset of injuries to educators caused by interspersed and random tasks. For example, a bus could strike a teacher while he or she is monitoring students’ arrival or departure. Other examples of odd or one-off illnesses and injuries include falling from a step stool, chair, or ladder while redecorating the classroom, exposure to toxic chemicals or substances in science class, and electrocution when plugging in an electronic device.
Lastly, many New Jersey schools are housed in older buildings. These aging schools are more likely than newer structures to have issues with mold, mildew, dust and dirt, slick floors, and even rodents. All of these factors are hazards to New Jersey employees working in education.
Injury to Other School Employees
Despite the varied risk of workplace injury, teachers aren’t the most likely New Jersey employees to be hurt in a school. New Jersey employees working as custodians, bus drivers, and in food service are all more commonly hurt at work than teachers and educators. These employees are at risk of being struck, scrapping a hand or other extremity, being exposed to an illness or chemical, slipping, falling, or suffering a muscle strain.
Any New Jersey employee injured on the job in a school, university, or other places of education is entitled to New Jersey workers’ compensation. If you want more information on how to report a school injury to your employer or how to file for workers’ compensation after a school injury, contact the Law Offices of Albert J. Talone at 856-234-4023.
The information in this blog post (“Post”) is provided for general informational purposes only. This information may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this Post should be construed as legal advice from The Law Office of Albert J. Talone or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.