Student injuries on the rise

By Sandra Conchie

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More Western Bay students are being injured new ACC figures reveal.
More Western Bay students are being injured new ACC figures reveal.

Yesterday the Bay of Plenty Times revealed the number of Western Bay teachers injured at school. Today Sandra Conchie investigates student injuries.

THE number of Western Bay students injured while at school is on the rise.

ACC figures obtained by the Bay of Plenty Times showed that 882 Western Bay students were granted compensation for various injuries in the 2012/2013 financial year at a cost of $168,072.

This is a significant drop from the $253,636 paid out for 814 claims for the 2011/2012 fiscal year.

Of the 882 claims, 502 students sustained soft tissue injuries, which accounted for well over half of the total cost of claims, 137 made claims for a laceration, puncture or sting, 155 for a fracture or dislocation, and 42 for dental injuries.

Eleven students received treatment after getting a foreign body lodged in an orifice or eye, and eight for burns. The total ACC cost nationally for student injuries was almost $14.3m.

Arataki School principal Dene Langley said since 2002 when he became principal there had been no ACC claims lodged against the school.

Mr Langley said the school had health and safety guidelines which were strictly adhered to.

That included making sure playground equipment and other property was safe to use, he said. "We always have teachers out in the playground at break-times monitoring students activities and we always encourage safe play. Part of the caretaker's role is to regularly assess the state of equipment and other school property to ensure any problems get fixed quickly," he said.

Mr Langley said the school health and safety regulations also applied to teachers and other staff working at the school.

"We do get rugby injuries, such as knocks, sprains and dislocations, from time to time, but no matter what type of injury it's always recorded and an ACC claim form filled in.

"That means if the student does require doctor's treatment further down the line they are covered."

Mount Maunganui College principal Russell Gordon said he was charged by the Education Ministry with ensuring the school was a place which was physically and mentally safe for students and staff, and health and safety regulations were strictly adhered to.

That meant whenever students were involved in any activity whether it was on school grounds or off-site there was always a risk assessment to reduce the potential exposure to harm, he said.

Mr Gordon said that included teachers completing a risk assessment management form for every field trip off-site, which must be reviewed by the school's health and safety officer, before it was approved and signed off by him. Parents consent was also sought when it involved some potential risk, he said.

Mr Gordon said the large majority of injuries occurred during a sporting event, for instance late last week a student running in P/E bumped into another student and broke their collarbone. "It's not something anyone could have foreseen. At the end of the day you have to take a common sense approach, and if the potential risk is too great, then it's just not worth it," he said.

ACC advisor Stephanie Lewis said ACC did not currently have any programmes targeting injury prevention in schools.

But one area it was keen to develop is a school-based programme, similar to the Land Transport New Zealand road safety work which was integrated into the school curriculum.

By the numbers

ACC claims by Western Bay students
2011: 832 - cost $171,689
2012: 814 - cost $253,636
2013: 882 - cost $168,072
[costs are exclusive of GST]
2013 Injuries claims
Soft tissue injury: 502
Fracture/dislocation: 155
Laceration, puncture/sting: 137
Dental injury: 42
Unspecified: 18
Foreign body in orifice/eye:11
Concussion: 9
Burns (includes scald):8
- Source ACC

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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