The majority of claims made under workers' compensation programs across the country relate to physical injuries sustained at a place of employment. However, sometimes an injury can be psychological and this type of issue can often be long-term and very debilitating. In particular, those that work in places of education seem to be more vulnerable. If you are part of the management team for a school or university, what do you need to consider, in order to try and address this problem?
Education Industry Challenges
Mental stress is the term most frequently given to claims against workers' compensation programs by those in the education industry. They represent a sizeable proportion of the total claims made in this specific industry, as well and typically require lengthy periods of absence from the workplace. There are certain demands and pressures in this type of environment that are difficult to cope with and sometimes teachers can feel overwhelmed and under too much pressure, due to the demands placed on them.
Sometimes, those involved in teaching feel that they have an excessive workload and are not allowed an adequate amount of time to prepare for their duties. They feel as if they are obliged to handle extracurricular commitments as well, such as sports games supervision on a weekend. Furthermore, it can be challenging to deal with poor behaviour or bullying amongst certain pupils, which can cause emotional stress by itself.
It's very important for the management team at any educational establishment to have proper control of any risks to health and safety. For example, they should immediately identify any potential hazards that could lead to work-related stress. They should assess each of these hazards individually to determine how likely it is for them to emerge, who would be affected and what degree of possible harm could result.
Then, senior staff should liaise with others to determine how these hazards can be controlled, with the aim of reducing and potentially eliminating them. When all this is in place, it's crucial that such control measures are regularly monitored to ensure that they are being effective.
Bringing in Expertise
Finally, all teachers should be allowed access to professional counselling or other forms of support, should it be needed. This will enable issues to be identified and absence from work reduced, where at all possible. In addition to bringing in an appropriate health and safety expert, a lawyer specialising in worker's compensation issues should be part of the oversight team going forward.