School Premises Accidents: Things Parents Need to Consider
If your child is like one in five Canadian children, he or she’s visited the doctor for x-rays and left the clinic with a bright pink or fluorescent green cast on their arm. Despite the bright color and your doctor’s assurances, you’re concerned that they have a broken bone. If your child has an accident on school premises, your unease becomes worry.
It’s natural to give the teachers and school administrators the benefit of the doubt, but you also want to make sure that your child’s learning environment is safe. The following are questions to consider when your child has had an injury on school premises.
Is the school’s equipment a factor?
A youngster who has a playground injury is likely to need medical attention. Canada has voluntary nationwide playground safety standards. Those standards and most experts agree that playground equipment and the surface beneath the equipment need proper maintenance. Most playground injuries are the result of a fall, so the ground surrounding the equipment should be cushiony, not hard.
Some playgrounds mix the equipment types so children of many ages can play. However, older and younger kids don’t always play well together. The bigger, faster, older kids sometimes injure younger ones without meaning to do so.
If your child’s school premises accident is related to classroom equipment, consider whether safety equipment and training was available. If your child is in a woodworking class, she should have safety goggles. If she’s performing a chemistry experiment, an eye wash station should be in the room. Teachers should instruct students how to use the safety equipment in the case of an emergency.
What was the teacher’s role in the accident?
Canada requires parents to send their children to school until age 16. In return, educators must care for students like a careful, prudent parent. Just as an educator should teach students how to use safety equipment, so too should they instruct students to use classroom equipment. Physical education teachers should offer gymnastics equipment instruction to reduce student injuries. Home ecology teachers should demonstrate how to use kitchen knives to avoid cuts.
Supervision is another parental duty that educators must perform. The level of teacher supervision varies according to activity, student age and class size. Fewer teachers supervise an algebra class than an elementary school’s playground recess, for example. Just as no parent is perfect, no teacher is perfect, either. However, teachers should exercise good judgement and make an effort to foresee potential student safety issues.
When did the child’s school premises accident occur?
It’s not surprising that most injuries at school happen during physical education classes, lunch, recess and before or after school – times when students are at play and have less structured time. If your child’s injury occurred on school grounds, but outside of the school’s normal hours, the injury might not be the school’s fault. If the accident happened within school hours, but during less structured times or areas, it’s wise to look into the role the school’s employees may have had in the accident.
Few children leave childhood behind without some injuries or scars. However, educators and parents alike want to minimize the risk of student injuries on school premises while maximizing the learning opportunities and the fun.
If your child has been injured at school, seek treatment first. Once your child has received medical care, you and your co-parent might wonder if your child’s school premises accident was preventable.
Put your mind at ease. Contact the legal experts at Mackesy Smye. Our trained, experienced lawyers can offer you a no-obligation consultation to discuss your child’s injury and the role the school may have played in the accident.