Teachers face a variety of workplace injuries that can impact their health and well-being. The injury risks that teachers face include conditions that can become chronic if not treated promptly.
The nature of the role requires a range of activities, which increases the risks in the workplace, so it is important for teachers to know what to look for to protect themselves from harm.
1. Strains and sprains
Teachers are constantly on their feet, moving around the classroom and often lifting heavy textbooks or equipment. These repetitive movements and lifting tasks can lead to muscle strains and sprains, particularly in the back, shoulders and neck. To prevent such injuries, it is important for teachers to maintain proper posture, use ergonomic furniture and practice safe lifting techniques.
2. Vocal cord injuries
Excessive talking or speaking loudly over a noisy classroom environment can strain the vocal cords, leading to hoarseness, pain and long-term damage. Teachers who talk all day should stay hydrated, use amplification systems when available and employ voice rest techniques during breaks to avoid vocal cord injuries.
3. Slips, trips and falls
Classrooms and hallways can easily become sources of multiple fall hazards during a busy school day. Misplaced objects and uneven surfaces can contribute to these accidents. Teachers may suffer injuries ranging from minor bruises to more severe fractures.
Recently, experts noted that slip and fall accidents were the most common workplace injuries for educators, with over 78% of those injuries occurring on the same level. That means ladders and stairs were not a risk most of the time when falls happened; other risk factors were at play.
4. Repetitive strain injuries
Tasks like grading papers and using interactive whiteboards can lead to repetitive strain injuries. Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and bursitis are all examples of chronic conditions that can develop over time from this kind of repetitive strain. Teachers can reduce the risk of RSIs by taking regular breaks and maintaining ergonomic workstations.
It is important for teachers to adopt prevention measures against common injuries. It is also important to remember that even the best prevention will not always work when the job carries an inherent risk; it just reduces the likelihood and impact. However, there are steps they can take to better protect themselves, and should employ those techniques as often as possible.