Background The educational services industry sector employs a large percentage of United States workers. Risk of injury to teachers has been documented; risk to non-licensed and support staff such as educational aids, transportation employees, custodial, and food service workers needs further investigation. In addition to direct effect of injury to employees, injuries can have indirect negative effects on students and impact district budgets.
Objectives Identify rates, consequences, and risk factors among all employee groups in school districts.
Methods This study utilised workers’ compensation data to identify incidence, severity, and potential risk factors to employees in 138 school districts in Minnesota over a seven-year period. School district and employee demographics, injury characteristics, and potential risk factors were extracted from the data. Employee jobs were grouped into faculty, custodial, food service, educational assistant, transportation, and clerical. Adjusted injury rates and multivariate analysis for identification of risk factors were conducted using negative binomial regression, rate ratios (RR), and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
Results The population had an adjusted injury rate of 6.6 per 100 full-time-equivalents (FTE) and 17.3 percent resulted in lost work time. Faculty had the lowest rate of injury (2.57 per 100 FTE). Transportation, food service, and custodial employees had the highest rates of injury and significantly elevated risk compared to faculty (RR = 12.24, CI = 8.91–16.78; RR = 9.72, CI = 7.76–12.18; RR = 8.68, CI = 6.84–10.99). Other significant risk factors for injuries in the population included male gender and older age groups- 41–50, 51–60, and 61+ (compared to 31–40). Younger employees (21–30) were at reduced risk of severe injury compared to 31–40 year olds.
Conclusion Many jobs within a school district entail high physical demands that may increase risk of injury and severity. The information can be utilised to understand risk of employment in school districts and direct injury prevention efforts.
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