The scope of hazards faced by the education sector is broader than you might think, ranging from workers’ compensation injuries to employment practice exposures – and these risks are growing and intensifying.
Teachers spend a large majority of their time standing in front of their classes, putting a strain on the back, hips, knees, and feet. Tasks like working on a computer or writing can lead to repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel. Gym teachers run the risk of injury due to athletic activities, while science teachers have the potential to suffer from burns or chemical exposures while conducting chemistry classes.
The risks for educational institutions aren’t limited to just teachers. Building maintenance staff are subject to their own set of hazards. For example, falls from heights are a risk for a maintenance staff member who might be working from a ladder to change a lightbulb or inspecting a leak from a roof. Foodservice workers could suffer a severe burn or cut while preparing food.
Student violence is an injury risk to teachers and staff, as well. A teacher may be injured trying to intervene in a fight between two students. Special education teachers frequently deal with students who may try to scratch, hit or bite them. Taking it a step further, school shootings or active attackers are clearly a serious risk for education staff. According to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, the number of injuries and deaths attributed to school shootings (specifically in grades K-12) has risen dramatically over the years, reaching a record high of 83 victims in 2018 alone.
Workplace injuries will always be a risk for the education sector, but AmTrust is here to help your educational institution protect its workforce. We have designed workers’ compensation insurance coverage specifically tailored to the needs of educational institutions, including charter schools, private and religiously affiliated schools, and higher educational institutions.
You can also learn more about the importance of workers’ compensation coverage by reading our extensive library of posts on the subject.
School property and surrounding grounds represent another insurance risk for the education sector. Faulty playground equipment, which could lead to a student injury, presents a potential liability issue for the school. Uneven sidewalks are a tripping hazard, which could lead to injuries to students or faculty. During wintertime, icy conditions present a potential slip and fall risk due to improperly cleared/maintained walkways and parking lots.
School buildings offer another potential risk. An undetected mold issue could cause illness to the students or staff. During winter, a frozen pipe can burst causing severe water damage.
School property offers a risk to both staff and students. AmTrust’s Loss Control department specializes in risk management and offers an extensive collection of property protection resources. Learn more about them here, and if you are a current AmTrust policyholder, feel free to contact our Loss Control team for more information.
School Violence and Bullying
Earlier, we mentioned the risk of student violence against teachers, but what about student violence or bullying against one another? These instances can result in a liability claim against a school and its district if they are ultimately found negligent for not providing adequate supervision and security. For example, last year over 100 lawsuits were filed against Broward County School District in response to the Parkland shooting.
Recently, a lawsuit was brought against a Los Angeles school district by a woman who claims they “failed to take adequate action” to protect her child and the other students at the school, after her child was assaulted and left with permanent brain damage and spinal injuries after being choked by another student.
Incidents like these are becoming more frequent, which means a growing risk for educational institutions. Be sure to review your liability policies thoroughly and work with your AmTrust appointed agent to make sure you have the coverage you need.
Employment Practices Exposures
Employment-related claims such as discrimination, wrongful termination or sexual harassment are yet another risk for the education sector. For example, if a member (or several members) of school staff are laid off, it may lead to claims of wrongful termination. A recent example involving discrimination and subsequent retaliation suit against a school in Michigan led to a $107,000 settlement.
An employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) policy can help protect your educational institution. For example, AmTrust’s EPLI product is designed to offering coverage in the event of employment-related claims. Insured events include alleged discrimination, wrongful termination or demotion, sexual harassment, and retaliation.
An EPLI policy applies to all employees of an insured business, including temporary, part-time, full-time, seasonal, volunteers and independent contract workers. Enhanced coverage protects the policyholder against both punitive damages and inappropriate third-party conduct.
Read our blog post, “Employment Practices Liability Claims Trends, Stats & Examples,” for more information on EPLI coverage.
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