You deserve a safe workplace environment regardless of your chosen career. If you are a teacher in North Carolina, you may not realize that some of the risks faced by construction workers also threaten your safety. Although you will not need a fall arrest harness for working on elevated platforms, some of your tasks as a teacher could leave you with fall-related injuries.
Regardless of which authoritative body mandates work safety in your occupation, your employer must identify potential safety hazards and take steps to protect you and your colleagues. Whether that body is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or another agency with safety guidelines to protect educators in North Carolina, you may want to familiarize yourself with the steps to take in the event of a work-related injury.
Special case hazards
Your field of expertise may pose unique risks, such as the following:
- If you are a chemistry teacher, electrical equipment, caustic chemicals and fire could threaten your safety.
- If you are a sports coach or a gym teacher, you will risk a range of athletic injuries.
- Science laboratories pose many hazards, making safety equipment like gloves, goggles, aprons and eyewash facilities essential. These facilities must be locked when not in use.
Playground duties and school crossing patrol also pose an endless list of risks.
The following circumstances pose hazards in classrooms:
- The long hours of standing while teaching classes pose risks of progressive damage to your back, hips and legs. Chronic pain could be the outcome if left unattended.
- If you spend extended periods writing or working on a computer, you could develop repetitive stress injuries in your hands and wrists.
- Hanging students’ artwork and banners could put you at risk of falling off a ladder. Striking your head during such a fall could cause traumatic brain injuries.
- The risks of slips, trips and falls are ever-present both inside and outside your classroom.
Typically, there is no shortage of wet spills and randomly placed objects when children are present.
School violence is a real threat, and the following steps might keep you safe:
- Although there are no mandated safety standards to prevent violence, your employer must take necessary steps to protect you and your colleagues along with the students.
- All staff members must have photo IDs.
- A designated safe reception area can prevent unauthorized people from moving about the school property.
- This area could also be where visitors sign in.
- A staff escort must accompany strangers who move beyond the reception area.
- Emergency, evacuation and lockdown procedures must be in place.
As with fire drills, everyone must practice these emergency procedures to prevent confusion in the event of a violent attack.
How will you cope with the consequences of an injury?
You should report any work-related injury to your employer as soon as possible. This will set the wheels rolling on the claims process for workers’ compensation benefits. To ensure you meet all the time limits of this process, it might be a good idea to utilize the skills of an attorney who has experience in dealing with the North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance program. Legal counsel will work to ensure you receive benefits to cover your medical expenses and any income losses suffered as the result of the injury.