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Student-inflicted injuries to staff in schools: comparing risk between educators and non-educators
  1. Katherine E Schofield1,
  2. Andrew D Ryan2,
  3. Craig Stroinski3
  1. 1 Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota, USA
  2. 2 Environmental Health Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  3. 3 SFM, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Katherine E Schofield, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, MN 55812-3042, USA; kscho{at}d.umn.edu

Abstract

Objective Student-inflicted injury to staff in the educational services sector is a growing concern. Studies on violence have focused on teachers as victims, but less is known about injuries to other employee groups, particularly educational assistants. Inequities may be present, as educational assistants and non-educators may not have the same wage, benefits, training and employment protections available to them as professional educators. We identified risk factors for student-related injury and their characteristics among employees in school districts.

Methods Workers’ compensation data were used to identify incidence and severity of student-related injury. Rates were calculated using negative binomial regression; risk factors were identified using multivariate models to calculate rate ratios (RR) and 95% CIs.

Results Over 26% of all injuries were student-related; 8% resulted in lost work time. Special and general education assistants experienced significantly increased risk of injury (RR=6.0, CI 5.05 to 7.15; RR=2.07, CI 1.40 to 3.07) as compared with educators. Risk differed by age, gender and school district type. Text analyses categorised student-related injury. It revealed injury from students acting out occurred most frequently (45.4%), whereas injuries involving play with students resulted in the highest percentage of lost-time injuries (17.7%) compared with all interaction categories.

Conclusion Student-inflicted injury to staff occurs frequently and can be severe. Special education and general assistants bear the largest burden of injury compared with educators. A variety of prevention techniques to reduce injury risk and severity, including policy or environmental modifications, may be appropriate. Equal access to risk reduction methods for all staff should be prioritised.

  • violence
  • injury compensation
  • school
  • occupational injury
  • workplace
  • risk factor research

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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Footnotes

  • Contributors KES designed the study, acquired data, performed analysis and interpretation of results, drafted the manuscript, and will be involved in final approval for publication. ADR substantially contributed to data analysis and interpretation, critical revision of the manuscript, and will be involved in final approval. CS substantially contributed to data acquisition and descriptive analysis, critical revision of the manuscript, and will be involved in final approval.

  • Funding This work was supported by a Pilot Project Grant through the Midwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety (MCOHS) Education and Research Center, University of Minnesota (UMN), Subaward P004312501.

  • Disclaimer The content of this work is solely the responsibilities of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the University of Minnesota Duluth, the University of Minnesota, SFM, MCOHS, or NIOSH.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval University of Minnesota Institutional Review Board exempt status.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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