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Student Injuries

National Playground Safety Week is April 21-25, 2014

Did you know?

  • Over 5,000 school days are missed each year because of a student injury.
  • 9-1-1 is called twice a day because of a student injury.
  • A student are hospitalized every other day because of a student injury.

In Utah, school injuries peak in 6th and 8th grade then decline among high school students. The Utah Department of Health tracks these injuries through a voluntary program called the Student Injury Reporting System. The data help schools identify problem areas, eliminate risks for injury (such as repairing broken equipment), and develop programs to reduce students' risks for injury.

Why are students injured at school?
There are many factors that put students at risk for injuries, including:

  • Poor monitoring and supervision of children
  • Risk-taking behaviors among students
  • Poor decision making skills among students
  • Inadequately maintained equipment
  • Lack of school personnel awareness of injury prevention
  • Lack of athletic conditioning
  • Lack of knowledge of appropriate safety procedures

Elementary School Injuries

In Utah elementary schools (grades K-6), 3,302 students were injured at school during the 2007-2008 school year. That's enough students to fill the average Utah elementary school classroom 143 times. In addition,

  • 70% of student injuries occur on the playground or playfield.
  • Two-thirds (65.2%) of these injuries happen during recess.
  • The activities during which injuries occur the most are playing on bars (20.7%), running (18%), and walking (11%).
  • The most common injuries received are possible fracture/broken, cut/laceration, bump/bruise/contusion, sprain/strain/tear, and possible concussion.

Secondary School Injuries

In Utah secondary schools (grades 7-12), 2,726 students were injured at school during the 2007-2008 school year. That's enough students to fill the average Utah secondary school classroom 121 times. In addition,

  • 28.3% of student injuries occur in the gym. Collisions cause 36.8% of these injuries followed by overexerting or twisting (17%), tripping or slipping (16.7%) and using equipment such as basketballs, soccer balls, and volleyballs (14.3%).
  • The majority of injuries occur during PE class.
  • The most common activities during which injuries occur during PE class are walking (12.2%), from classrom activities (11.5%), and playing basketball (10.3%).
  • The most common injuries received are possible fracture/broken, cut/laceration, sprain/strain/tear, bump/bruise/contusion, and possible concussion.

How can student injuries be prevented?

Safety tips are different for elementary and secondary-age students because injuries occur in different settings.

For elementary schools:

  • Establish playground safety rules (such as no pushing, crowding, or shoving) with consequences for breaking rules.
  • Always have trained adult supervisors present who:
    • Spread out and avoid congregating in groups.
    • Walk around the entire perimeter of the playground.
    • Find areas that allow sight from one end of the playground
      to the other.
  • Develop a playground inspection and equipment maintenance checklist.
  • Schedule regular inspections and promptly repair broken playground equipment.
  • Establish a school climate that demonstrates respect, support, and caring and does not tolerate harassment or bullying.
  • Provide first aid training for school staff as outlined by state guidelines.

For secondary schools:

  • Provide regular injury prevention training for staff and students.
  • P.E. teachers and coaches should be certified in CPR and first aid.
  • Develop safety rules for gyms and train students to use equipment properly.
  • Equipment should be in good condition and appropriate for the child’s age and size.
  • Every athlete should receive a pre-season physical exam by a qualified health care provider.
  • Ensure that sports programs include conditioning, personal protective gear, and adult supervision.
  • Have a trainer, physician, or EMT present at all athletic practices and competitions.
  • Every athletic program should have an emergency plan to address
    medical care of injured athletics.
  • Athletes should never play a sport when injured unless cleared by a
    health care provider.
  • Conduct regular safety and hazard assessments in gyms and on sports fields.