Background Student-perpetrated injury to staff in the educational services sector is a particular and growing concern. Studies have focused on teachers, but much less is known about injuries to other employee groups, particularly educational assistants. Additionally, the type of interaction with students that results in injury is not well-documented.
Objectives Identify rates, consequences, and risk factors for student-related injury among faculty and staff in school districts.
Methods This study utilised workers’ compensation data to identify incidence and severity of student-related injury to employees and potential risk factors 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 broken down into faculty, custodial, food service, educational assistant, special education 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). Additionally, text of injury claim characteristics were analysed, grouped by student interactions that resulted in injury (e.g. acting-out, lifting, restraining, etc.) and compiled in descriptive tables.
Results Twenty-five percent of all injuries were student-related and fifteen percent resulted in lost work-time. Special and general education assistants experienced the greatest rates and significantly increased risk of injury compared to faculty members. (RR = 6.0, CI = 5.05–7.15; RR = 2.07 CI = 1.40–3.07). Risk also differed based on age, gender, and school district type. Text analyses revealed students acting-out resulted in the highest frequency (45.4%) of student-related injury, whereas staff playing along resulted in the highest percentage of lost-time injury (17.7%).
Conclusion Student-related injury to faculty and staff occurs frequently in schools and can be severe. Education assistants bear the largest burden of injury. However, many student-related injuries were not aggressive in nature, based on information from text analyses.
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