Health and safety in schools is essential in order to keep students, faculty, and parents safe. Health and safety is everyone’s responsibility regardless of the position or authority within the school system. Health and safety involves people like: administrative staff, principals, teachers, students, volunteers, bus drivers, and custodial staff.¹
A workplace or work site is a location where a worker is, or is likely to be, engaged in any occupation.¹ This means that any location where school staff work, such as classrooms, offices, warehouses, vehicles, hospitals, people’s homes, prisons, etc.
Everyone has the responsibility to report unsafe conditions and teachers can refuse to teach in an unsafe location.¹
In addition to physical safety threats, teachers face the added risk of being in contact with many pupils in a day that could have contagious diseases or illnesses. As an example, the Swine Flu outbreak in 2010 was prevalent in schools and spread easily among students who were in close contact. Because students spread the illness so quickly, many teachers were susceptible to the illness as well.
Students can also be harmed outside of school hours or outside of a teacher’s supervision. Bullying occurs when students or teachers target a student or students who are not fitting in socially or are considered social outcasts. Bullying has caused many adverse psychological effects among children, including suicide, depression, and social exclusion.¹
Home violence is a serious and dangerous type of violence where students, after leaving school, are inflicted with psychological and/or physical abuse by parents, siblings, or family.¹ Home violence can be very hard to detect by teachers because many students, although they may be facing violence at home, are hesitant to tell teachers and administration.
The Internet has become a dangerous place for students to navigate unprotected. Teachers need to take care that students are not going on websites that may lead to emotional or physical harm, such as sites where child predators chat with young children.¹
1. Alberta. Human Services. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from http://humanservices.alberta.ca/elearning/schools/data/schools.html
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