Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's education and lifestyle reporter.

ACC claims for school injuries on the rise

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Western Heights Primary School principal Brent Griffin.
Western Heights Primary School principal Brent Griffin.

Strains, sprains, fractures and concussions were some of the most common injuries suffered on Rotorua school grounds this year, according to new ACC data.

And despite new health and safety legislation leading to stricter rules in the playground, the number of claims is growing.

But a local principal says the rise could be the result of "increased vigilance and reporting".

There have been 1701 claims this year for injuries sustained on school grounds in Rotorua - among the highest number in the past six years.

There were 1823 claims last year and 1709 in 2014.

But, while claim numbers have been increasing since 2010, the total cost has declined.

This year has been the first in the past six years to have the total cost of claims come under $200,000.

The highest was in 2012 when 1551 claims totalled $302,401.

Otonga Rd Primary School principal Linda Woon said the increase could be attributed to more people making claims.

"It could be that more of the injuries are being claimed, not that more children are injuring themselves.

"That being said, children will always hurt themselves on the playground, the most common injuries being broken wrists from playing on the playground and cuts and grazes from running and tripping on concrete."

An ACC spokeswoman said in a written statement the data was not specific to school hours, school terms or school pupils.

"The numbers are likely to include people using school grounds for weekend sport or other school facilities for unrelated activities."

Western Heights High School principal Brent Griffin said new health and safety legislation had led to the school enforcing more rules and regulations to prevent injuries.

The Health and Safety at Work Act outlines the responsibilities of staff including those defined as officers - a person who has significant influence over the management of a workplace.

In a school environment, officers will include principals and board of trustees members.

"Accidents will always happen but we do everything we can to reduce them. We have height restrictions for our playgrounds, we don't allow children to climb trees and there's no running on the concrete.

"If anything we've seen a decrease in injuries at our school but at the same time it is limiting children being children. I loved climbing trees when I was a kid and fell out sometimes ... Some of the things every kid used to do are now deemed dangerous - it's about changing our mindset."

Mr Griffin said there had been about a dozen broken wrists in the past five years but thankfully no serious injuries.

Rotorua Principals Association president and Ngakuru School principal Grant Henderson said the rise in claims could be a result of increased vigilance.

"When before we may have told parents to take their child home and keep an eye on them, now we are saying 'take them to the doctor, because they are experts'. With that ultimately comes more ACC claims.

"We haven't stopped our children climbing trees but we are more aware and tell the children to only climb to a safe height."

Rotorua school-based ACC claims
2010
Claims: 1550
Cost: $233,940
2011
Claims: 1640
Cost: $282,029
2012
Claims: 1551
Cost: $302,401
2013
Claims: 1647
Cost: $279,823
2014
Claims: 1709
Cost: $216,158
2015
Claims: 1823
Cost: $247,197
2016 (year to date)
Claims: 1701
Cost: $166,498

Top five most common injuries
Soft tissue injuries
Laceration, puncture, sting
Fracture/dislocation
Dental injury
Concussion

- Rotorua Daily Post

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