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R&R Insurance Blog

4 Questions You Need To Ask To Manage Classroom Storage And Reduce Work Comp Claims

Posted by Mike Walden

As you consider the safety of your classrooms, storage will almost always be a hot button issue with teachers and staff members alike. From textbooks to art supplies, teachers are challenged with organizing their classroom assets and maintaining a functional learning environment, making the most of tight quarters.

We encourage you to take a look at your unique classroom storage scenarios and approach each storage challenge with a focus on safety and injury prevention. As you tour your school classrooms, here are a few questions you should ask.

How Did It Get Up There?

If you encounter supply boxes stacked up to their ceiling, your first concern might be whether those items will fall, and rightly so. But if you are focusing on long-term safety and wellbeing, you also need to consider how those items were stacked in the first place. Did a teacher climb on a chair or desk to stack the items? Did the teacher lift a heavy object over their head? To minimize workers’ compensation claims and injury hazards in the classroom, you’ll need to consider each scenario from every safety point of view.

The R&R Insurance Recommendation

R&R Insurance believes in providing advice and resources to help schools minimize risks in the classroom. When it comes to classroom storage, we often encourage schools to create a storage policy that outlines a few key factors, including:

  • Appropriate items to be stored
  • Safe storage locations
  • Height restrictions on storage items
  • Weight limits on stacked items
  • Staff assigned to move heavy objects
  • Proper lifting procedures

With a policy in place, you can educate your staff members on best practices to help minimize injury and maintain a safe learning environment.

How Will It Come Down Safely?

If you see a hazard in a classroom your first instinct will often be to correct or eliminate the problem immediately. If items are stacked in a classroom, how can you remove those items safety? You might also question how the teacher was planning to safely remove the items and what standards you have in place to appropriately manage such hazards.

The R&R Insurance Recommendation

Focusing on being proactive, R&R Insurance would recommend educating staff members on proper storage protocol. If you draft a policy on who can add and remove items from storage spaces, you can ensure that appointed staff members follow proper safety recommendations. Simple things like using an approved ladder to reach an overhead item instead of standing on a chair, or using proper lifting technique, are very important safety considerations. By placing a focus on proper procedure, you can minimize injury risks in the classroom.

How Heavy Is The Item?

Teachers use a variety of materials to teach and demonstrate in the classroom, each with its own inherent risks. Consider the weight of classroom objects and assess the injury potential of each object.

The R&R Insurance Recommendation

We certainly understand that it is not always realistic to ask approved personnel to manage adding or removing items from storage. Placing size and weight specifications in your storage policy will provide your teaching staff with some flexibility to access items as needed, without asking for assistance. Consider a weight limit that teachers can lift without assistance and set safety protocols for your staff members who are responsible for lifting heavy items.

How Likely Is It The Item Will Fall?

There is always a potential for injury if items in storage have the potential to fall. Improperly stacked items, or awkwardly shaped materials, like microscopes, can often present a challenge for teachers in the classroom. Assessing the potential for injury is an important step in classroom safety maintenance.

The R&R Insurance Recommendation

Maintaining a safe classroom really comes down to properly identifying potential hazards and knowing how to safety manage each unique hazard. Your storage policy is a great place to start so everyone understands that safety is a priority. Educating team members on the details of the policy will provide them with the necessary tools to problem solve when hazards arise and ask for assistance when it is required.

At R&R Insurance, we are committed to helping schools minimize their risks, offering solutions and resources to help build safe environments for staff and students alike.

Interested in learning how R&R Insurance can improve safety in your school and reduce your costs? Request our free safety resources and case studies or schedule a call with one of our School Group Experts, today.

Topics: Safety, Loss Prevention, Risk Management, Schools, Risk Management Center, Business Insurance, School safety

How To Protect Your School Against School Intruders

Posted by Jeff Thiel

Providing a safe working and learning environment is one of many responsibilities schools are tasked with every day. Preventative measures and protocols are important components in a school safety plan and should be thoughtfully prepared and executed. While there are many things to consider to safely protect the school premises and those inside, effective security should include: school and premises access restrictions, trained security personnel and adherence to policies intended to prohibit unauthorized entry.

Consider the following recommendations to protect your employees and students from the potential dangers that can accompany workplace intruders.

Security Personnel To Monitor Entrances

For security purposes, post uniformed security personnel at all regularly used entrances. Security personnel will be responsible for restricting building access and sending all visitors to the office area. Before you hire security personnel, complete a full background check.

If your school budget is restricted, consider tasking staff members to monitor entrances during high traffic times, when students are entering and leaving the building. Ask staff members to monitor for adults and ask them for identification. If they encounter a visitor, they should direct the visitor to the office immediately.

R&R Insurance Best Practice Recommendation: To test your school’s security effectiveness, periodically test how well the security personnel enforce your entry procedures.

Employee Identification Badges

For added safety, you should consider requiring all school employees to wear photo name identification badges at all times. Identification badges will clearly identify permitted individuals so there is no grey area on safe personnel within the school. In addition, this simple step can ensure visitors and students alike will know which qualified personnel to turn to if a problem should arise. Be sure your safety policy includes the retrieval of employee identification badges immediately upon suspension, termination or resignation.

R&R Insurance Best Practice Recommendation: If employees forget their name badges, there should be protocol on how they are able to identify themselves to security personnel and temporary identification should be provided.

Visitor Registration and Identification Badges

Visitors should register at the school office and log in and out using a visitor log. Visitors should be asked to provide photo identification and let the office receptionist know whom they are visiting and the purpose of their visit. It is important to provide visitors with an identification badge that is clearly visible, so staff and students know the visitor is permitted on the premises. Visitor badges should have a date so they cannot be re-used in the future.

If you are having any construction or maintenance work completed at the school, ensure the crew provides you with a personnel roster and that all visitor badges have an appropriate date range.

R&R Insurance Best Practice Recommendation: Consider installing a panic button under the office reception desk so the receptionist can discreetly summon help in threatening situations.

Deliveries and Messengers

In your safety policy, consider including safety procedures for deliveries and messengers. You should require that all deliveries be made in-person at the school office.

If deliveries are intended for specific staff members, the office staff should call the named individual to verify the delivery and ensure the items are expected. Do not allow anyone to leave unexpected or undesired items on school grounds.

R&R Insurance Best Practice Recommendation: In the office, consider having a delivery logbook, where messengers write their name, employer and the date and time of delivery.

Key Control

It is important to establish a key-control system. Consider which employees require a key and what their key should have access to within the school. If a key is lost, consider replacing locks. If an employee is suspended, terminated or resigns, be sure to change keypad combinations and retrieve their key prior to departure.

R&R Insurance Best Practice Recommendation: Be sure that no single key provides unrestricted access to all areas of the building. Consider having a locked and secure master key locker with a copy of all keys used in the building.

Additional Security Measures to Consider:

Secure Parking Areas

If you can, it is a great safety resource to have video-surveillance in school parking lots. At night, parking lot lighting should be bright enough to both deter trespassers and facilitate video monitoring. If video monitoring is not feasible, consider adding a fence around the school premises and have one single entry point to designated parking areas that can be monitored.

Loading Docks

If your school has a loading dock, it is important that the loading dock area is behind locked doors and does not permit access to the inside of the school building. If possible, consider adding video-surveillance. Before any cargo is left on school property, make sure it has been checked and approved by authorized personnel. Be sure to secure dock areas during periods of inactivity.

With the proper preventative measures in place, your school can be prepared to prevent intruders from gaining unauthorized access to your school. If you feel that your school is not adequately prepared, consider the initial steps you can take to improve school safety and reach out to R&R Insurance to obtain additional resources.

Interested in learning how R&R Insurance can improve safety in your school and reduce your costs? Request our free safety resources and case studies or schedule a call with one of our School Group Experts, today. At R&R Insurance, we are committed to helping schools minimize their risks, offering solutions and resources to help build safe environments for staff and students alike.

Free LGPIF Webinar

Topics: Safety, Loss Prevention, Risk Management, Schools, Risk Management Center, Business Insurance, School safety

Teacher’s 3-Step Guide For Classroom Safety

Posted by Scott Brookes

Across the nation, schools work diligently to provide a safe learning environment for students and a safe workplace for teachers. Prevention is an essential component to classroom safety, and learning to recognize potential dangers in the classroom is often the first step. With the right tools and guidance, teachers can advocate for prevention and promote a culture of safety.

We have outlined below some basic steps that teachers can take to help ensure safety in the classroom, for themselves and their students.

Consider Weapons of Opportunity

In the heat of an argument, many common classroom objects have the potential to become dangerous weapons. Common classroom items such as sharp scissors, heavy rulers, vases, letter openers, and paperweights could pose a safety risk. Consider storing these items out of site, in a drawer or covered shelving unit. Art, science and vocational teachers should also exercise caution with the variety of items in their classrooms. Sharp tools and instruments should always be safely stored and it is important that all classroom tools are accounted for and safety returned at the end of each class.

Avoid Cleaners and Chemicals In the Classroom

While most household cleaners are relatively non-hazardous, extra caution is needed in the classroom, especially in elementary schools. Students should seldom be exposed to cleaning agents and chemicals; moreover, students should never be asked to use hazardous items in the classroom without proper instruction. Schools should provide all cleaning agents and ensure that they are properly labeled with current material safety data sheets (MSDS) as required by federal safety laws. Specialized personnel should be responsible for all cleanups following the school’s outlined safety policy rules.

Use Extension Cords Safely

Extension cords can present many hazards in the classroom. Aside form the obvious tripping hazard they present; improper use of extension cords is the number one cause of fires. Here are few safety recommendations for proper extension cord use:

  • Inspect each extension cord carefully before each use and before placing in storage. Ensure that the insulation is in good condition and that the grounding prong has not been damaged. Return any damaged cords to building services for repair or disposal.
  • Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis. Extension cords should not be used for long periods in place of adequate outlets.
  • In your safety policy, ensure there is a provision about acceptable extension cords. All extension cords should be provided by building services and be of commercial grade. Cords must have a grounding prong plug.
  • Never run extension cords under rugs, over ceiling tiles or hang them from nails or staples. This can cause damage to the insulation, making the cord a safety and fire hazard.
  • Avoid using excessive power strips that can overload the circuit and create a fire hazard.

With prevention in mind, these simple steps can help you promote safety in your classroom each day. Learn to recognize potential dangers in the classroom and foster a culture of safety by encouraging others to do the same.

Interested in learning how R&R Insurance can improve safety in your school and reduce your costs? Request our free safety resources and case studies or schedule a call with one of our School Group Experts, today. At R&R Insurance, we are committed to helping schools minimize their risks, offering solutions and resources to help build safe environments for staff and students alike.

Topics: Safety, Loss Prevention, Risk Management, Schools, Risk Management Center, Business Insurance, School safety

7 Simple Steps to Minimize Slips and Falls In Schools

Posted by Paul Lessila

Each weekday morning there are more than 3.1 million teachers and 49.8 million students rushing into public schools. (National Center for Education Statistics)

With the sheer volume of traffic in and out of schools each morning, revising safety protocols to minimize potential risks, like slips and falls, must be a priority.

You likely strive to continually reinforce your safety policy and communicate the importance of creating a culture of safety and prevention within your school. If you are looking for a way to reduce your costs while maintaining a high standard of safety, you might consider a policy revision. Starting small, consider these seven simple steps you can take in your school to minimize the occurrence of slip and fall accidents.

1. Entry Carpets To Reduce Moisture

As teachers and students travel into the school their shoes bring the outdoors in, be it snow, rain, dirt or muck. During wet or wintery months, it is important that your school entryways have carpets that extend at least six feet to ensure shoes are losing accumulated moisture. This simple measure will keep moisture contained to one manageable area and minimize the slip and fall risk throughout adjacent hallways and classrooms.

2. Outdoor Maintenance Schedule

Establishing a schedule to regularly maintain outdoor walkways, sidewalks and doorways is one way to minimize risk. Coordinating regular intervals for shoveling and salting, and for moisture and debris removal is an easy method to prevent slips and falls.

3. Outdoor Hazard Inspection

It is important to inspect your outdoor school property regularly and keep an eye out for potential hazards. For example, take a few minutes to identify pavement cracks or heaving and if you are unable to repair them right away, spray paint these hazards a bright color to ensure safety for all school visitors.

4. Indoor Maintenance

Whether it is a spill in the art room or a mess in the cafeteria, always ensure that your custodial staff is prepared. Consider the following recommendations:

  • Establish communication protocols to alert custodial staff of a hazard so they can arrive quickly on the scene.
  • Provide custodial staff with the necessary equipment and barricades to keep teachers and students away from known hazards.
  • Ensure custodial staff has ample cleaning and hazard removal supplies on hand.

5. Indoor Hazard Inspection

Much like outdoor inspection, you should consider doing indoor safety inspections regularly, too. Educate all staff members on problems they should look for and solutions to help them prevent accidents. Simple things include identifying extension cords hazards and bundling cords out of traffic areas, and looking out for areas where moisture tends to accumulate, increasing the risk for slips and falls.

6. Storage and Hanging Policies

As a school, you are taught to think first and foremost about the safety and well being of your students. It is however, just as important to consider the safety of your staff members. Classroom storage is an important consideration because improper storage methods can lead to injury and falls. Consider implementing a policy on proper classroom storage and hanging and educate your teaching staff on the do’s and don’ts of storage.

7. Proper Footwear

While it might be difficult to advocate for proper footwear at school to fashion savvy staff and students, but it is a must. Designer shoes are not made for walking in inclement weather and will not bode well for personal safety. Encourage your students and staff to wear sensible, weather-safe shoes into the building and to change their shoes once they are safety indoors. Consider offering your staff members a shoe storage bag to carry their fashionable shoes to and from school and to use as a storage bag for their sensible shoes during the day.

What other simple safety solutions would you recommend to prevent slips and falls? Does your school have best practices?

At R&R Insurance, we are committed to helping schools minimize their risk, offering solutions and resources to help build safe environments for staff and students alike.

Interested in learning how R&R Insurance can improve safety in your school and reduce your costs? Request our free safety resources and case studies or schedule a call with one of our School Group Experts, today.
Free LGPIF Webinar

Topics: Safety, Loss Prevention, Risk Management, Schools, Risk Management Center, Business Insurance, School safety

School Safety: Establishing Separation Policies and Procedures Can Save Lives

Posted by the knowledge brokers

This article recently appeared in Public School Risk Institute's Risk Central, written by Paul Timm. He offers an excellent list of questions at the end for administrators to consider in the prevention of another tragedy.

School Safety: Establishing Separation Policies and Procedures Can Save Lives
Paul Timm - March 03, 2011

Less than 30 days after the tragic shooting in January at a school in Omaha, Neb. – where a suspended high school student killed an administrator who had earlier disciplined him – another school administrator was shot and killed in Northern California.

Just like in Nebraska, the perpetrator – a custodian who had just been fired – was able to return to the elementary school and access the office of the administrator who had delivered the news of his dismissal.

In the first instance, the student actually signed the visitor registry before being granted access to the assistant principal’s office. In the second instance, the custodian simply walked right into the principal’s office.

These tragic incidents could have been prevented. But it shouldn’t take a tragedy on campus to be the impetus for school administrators to address separation policies and practices.

If you’re a school administrator reading this article, here’s a question for you: Have you taken steps to review and develop separation policies? If not, let me implore you to learn from the tragedies in Nebraska, Northern California, and far too many other places where school shootings have occurred.

Unfortunately, most effective security measures follow extensive losses. But as we all know, before an incident happens is the time to be proactive.

To start, ask yourself some questions:

  • What are your separation procedures and how quickly are they implemented once an employee or student is asked to leave?
  • How can a locked vestibule at the main entrance, or visitor management software, discourage or even prevent this kind of incident?
  • What is the role of local law enforcement during and after separation procedures?
  • For how long must the person who has been asked to leave stay away from campus (cooling off period)?
  • Under what circumstances or arrangements will they be permitted to return?
  • What are your short- and long-term recovery plans should an incident like this occur at your facility?

Answering these questions are the first steps in preventing a tragedy on your campus.

Topics: Schools, Business Insurance, Public School Risk Institute, School safety, Risk Central, Separation Policies

Ten Tips To Avoid Sexual Accusations For School District Staff

Posted by the knowledge brokers

teacherThis article gives good advice on the subject of sexual molestation. This is a district's best defense for allegations in a particular molestation event. The best way that school personnel can protect themselves against harassment and sexual abuse allegations is to avoid scenarios with students that could be inappropriate, misunderstood or misinterpreted by students or staff.

Ten Tips to Preventing Sexual Harassment or Accusations For School District Staff

  1. Never be alone with a student in your classroom, outside of the regular school day, without informing and/or seeking approval from your principal.
  2. Never be alone with a student behind a closed door; keep your classroom door open during and after school or before school meetings. If your classroom does not have a window, ask for one to be installed or meet in a more open area.
  3. Never make a habit of meeting students outside of school for a meal, coffee, soda, etc.
  4. Never counsel your students in non-academic matters. Refer students who have questions, concerns, etc. to a guidance counselor, career counselor or social worker, etc.
  5. Never transport students in your own vehicle or allow students to have access to your car.
  6. Never give students hall passes to come to your classroom on non-school-related matters.
  7. Never allow students to engage you in and do not offer advice in conversations regarding their romantic or sexual problems, concerns, fears, curiosities, etc. Don’t discuss your personal problems with students.
  8. Never entertain students in your home unless it is a school-sponsored activity. Always have other faculty present. Never suggest that a student come to your house alone or be dropped off at your home.
  9. Never make sexual comments or gestures about a student’s body, and don’t tell sexual jokes or display sexually suggestive images, videos, etc. in the classroom.
  10. Never put your hands on your student in a manner that a reasonable person could consider as inappropriate under the circumstances or suggests something sexual, intimate, physically pleasing, etc. Examples include brushing up against the body; rubbing shoulders, necks, backs; hugging; tickling; wrestling; spanking; etc.

A portion of this content was taken from PreventionLink.
District administrators should contact Bill Hattendorf with R&R Insurance for more information.

Topics: R&R Insurance, Schools, accusations, harassment, students, molestation, classroom, sexual gestures, sexual molestation, school, School safety, inappropriate, Bill Hattendorf, sexual comments