School workers including administrators, teachers, aides, secretaries, food service, and maintenance workers keep California schools safe and enriching for school-age children. Know the potential hazards of your school workplace so you can protect your own safety as well.
Be aware of potential slips, trips, and falls at school. Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes with a non-slip sole. School classrooms can be small and cluttered. Practice good housekeeping by cleaning up throughout the day. Provide cubbies or hooks for instructional materials and personal items. Encourage students to push in chairs. Promptly report spills or accumulated items and get them cleaned up. School grounds may have scattered play equipment and uneven pavement or other surfaces, so watch your step. Take care when supervising playgrounds or field play—watch for kids running near or around you.
Practice good ergonomics. School desks are often older and not adjustable for ergonomics, but try to adjust your equipment to your comfort. Keep your keyboard and monitor straight in front of you. Adjust your chair so that you can reach the work surface. Use a footrest if you need to support your feet. If you are working with small groups or individuals, use an adult-sized chair. School work makes it easy to rotate your tasks throughout the day. Take micro-breaks every 20-to-30 minutes to give your body a rest.
Use proper lifting techniques when lifting supplies and other materials. Keep your back straight, your head facing forward, and use your legs. Try not to lift kids, it is better to kneel down to their level to comfort or direct them. Do not lift kids or “spot” them on playground equipment, you could get injured if they suddenly shift their weight or fall.
Practice good hygiene to control potential infections. Wash hands throughout the day and before you eat or have something to drink. Wash down work surfaces to remove germs. Do not share your clothing with children. Talk with your doctor about your job and consider vaccines against common school exposures.
Aging and portable school buildings along with delayed maintenance can lead to indoor air quality issues such as mold, asbestos, and lead paint. Know how to recognize these hazards and promptly report problems when they arise.
Be prepared for accidents and emergencies while you are on the job. Know emergency procedures, exits, and evacuation routes. Know first aid and CPR and practice universal precautions when administering them.
Workplace violence at schools is a concern. Practice lockdown and shelter-in-place drills. Establish communication methods and have emergency phone numbers available in all school locations. Watch for and report unusual behavior or activity. Keep landscaping cleared away so it does not harbor wrongdoers. Make sure classroom and office windows can be covered to prevent outsiders from seeing in.