Accidental injury in school: what should teachers do?


As a teacher, having an accidental injury in school can have an impact on your health and wellbeing and your effectiveness in the classroom. 

You may be unsure of whether you need to report it internally or if a member of the senior leadership team should report it to an external organisation.

You will want to read your staff handbook and your school’s health and safety policy for the procedures to follow in your setting. Often, depending on the severity of the injury, this will require your school to record the injury in the school’s accident book. 

If you are an Edapt subscriber, and you have had an injury in school you can contact us for support and advice.

In this support article, we outline information on health and safety in schools from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the importance of recording of accidents at work from Citizens Advice and link to examples of health and safety policies from schools.

What should I do when I have had an accidental injury in school?

Citizens Advice explains having records of your accident will be useful. It’s also a good idea to:

  • Take photos of your injury and whatever caused your accident
  • Make sure you have contact details for anyone who witnessed your accident
  • Make notes about your accident as soon as possible – you can include drawings if they’ll help show what happened
  • Ask any witnesses to make notes and share them with you

Citizens Advice explains you should make sure your employer knows about your accident. The best person to tell is probably your manager – check your staff handbook or intranet if you’re not sure. 

Accidental injury in school: what is RIDDOR?

In law, employers must report certain workplace injuries, near-misses and cases of work-related disease to HSE. This duty is under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, known as RIDDOR.

The HSE explains that overall accountability for health and safety lies with the employer of the members of staff in the school. However day-to-day running of the school including responsibility for the health and safety of staff and pupils is normally delegated to the head teacher and school management team. They have a key role in making sure risks are managed effectively on site.

The HSE has published guidance for schools on incident reporting for accidents.

Under RIDDOR, the responsible person must report the following work-related accidents, including those caused by physical violence, if an employee is injured, wherever they are working:

  • Accidents which result in death or a specified injury must be reported without delay (see ‘Reportable specified injuries’ below for more information);
  • Accidents which prevent the injured person from continuing their normal work for more than seven days (not counting the day of the accident, but including weekends and other rest days) must be reported within 15 days of the accident

Reportable specified injuries include:

  • Fractures, other than to fingers, thumbs and toes
  • Amputations
  • Any injury likely to lead to permanent loss of sight or reduction in sight
  • Any crush injury to the head or torso causing damage to the brain or internal organs
  • Serious burns (including scalding), which: – cover more than 10% of the body; or – cause significant damage to the eyes, respiratory system or other vital organs
  • Any scalping requiring hospital treatment
  • Any loss of consciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia
  • Any other injury arising from working in an enclosed space which: – leads to hypothermia or heat-induced illness; or – requires resuscitation or admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours.

Examples of reportable injuries from violence include an incident where a teacher sustains a specified injury because a pupil, colleague or member of the public assaults them while on school premises.

This is reportable, because it arises out of or in connection with work. We have published more information on steps to follow if you have been assaulted by a pupil in school.

Reportable occupational diseases

Employers must report occupational diseases when they receive a written diagnosis from a doctor that their employee has a reportable disease linked to occupational exposure.

These include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Severe cramp of the hand or forearm
  • Occupational dermatitis, eg from work involving strong acids or alkalis, including domestic bleach
  • Hand-arm vibration syndrome
  • Occupational asthma, eg from wood dust and soldering using rosin flux
  • Tendonitis or tenosynovitis of the hand or forearm
  • Any occupational cancer
  • Any disease attributed to an occupational exposure to a biological agent

Work-related stress and stress-related illnesses (including post-traumatic stress disorder) are not reportable under RIDDOR. To be reportable, an injury must have resulted from an ‘accident’ arising out of or in connection with work.

In relation to RIDDOR, an accident is a discrete, identifiable, unintended incident which causes physical injury. Stress-related conditions usually result from a prolonged period of pressure, often from many factors, not just one distinct event.

Examples of accident reporting procedures in schools

Hitchin Boys School in Hertfordshire has published a document outlining its accident reporting procedure. It explains:

Any incident involving an employee (no matter how minor) and pupil incidents (and those to visitors, members of the public etc) requiring more significant first aid and/ or linked to the condition of the premises, equipment or as a result of a curriculum session; should be recorded in the schools own accident book and kept on site. 

It notes that where an employee is abused, threatened or assaulted in accordance with their work a violent incident form should be completed & copied to the head teacher.

St George’s Church of England Controlled Primary School in Kent has published its accident and recording policy.

It explains that all accidents must be reported immediately and entered into the Kent County Council accident book which is located in the school office.

This book will be checked by the headteacher every month and a report made to the governors, if appropriate. He/she will investigate accidents as necessary and, where the County procedure requires, will submit an accident report form to the area office.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.