The key to preventing harm to school employees (and students) is to establish a good safety program. An effective safety program addresses the specific needs of your school and meets established compliance standards. Experience shows that school districts that have all or many of the following elements in place consistently have fewer employee and student injuries.
- The district superintendent is actively involved in both student and employee safety efforts.
- Principals are accountable for developing and maintaining an effective safety program in their school.
- There is a dedicated school district staff person, with district- wide authority who leads the safety efforts and works cooperatively with the ESD risk management staff.
- The district and/or school has a Safety Committee that is actively engaged in driving safety improvement and is focused on reducing hazards in the school environment.
- There is an active program to identify hazards by performing regular site inspections and observing work behaviors.
- Employees report injuries and near-miss incidents.
- An accident investigation process is in place that looks for root causes and makes recommendations to prevent the risk of reoccurrence.
- The district has a Return-to-Work program with the goal of returning injured employees to full or transitional duty.
- There is a primary district contact person for Workers’ Compensation claims and the Return-to-Work program who works with ESD staff in the management of district employee claims.
- The district has a procedure for reporting and correcting safety concerns.
- Supervisors set a good safety example for their employees and provide feedback (both positive and negative) on their employee’s safety performance. Supervisors communicate effectively and employees are comfortable discussing their safety concerns with their supervisor.
- The district has an effective safety training program that includes:
- New employee orientation
- Safety policies and procedures
- Required Department of Labor & Industries (WISHA) training
- Job-specific safety training including safety information on specific tools and equipment
- The district teaches safety rules and procedures and enforces them.
- Safety resources are provided to employees.
How many of these characteristics does your school district have? If your district would like some assistance in any of these areas please contact your Loss Control Specialist at ESD 112.