Children should be taught how to avoid accidents at school, a leading charity said after hundreds of Lancashire youngsters had mishaps in the classroom and playground last year.
More than 300 accidents were reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), while there were also more than 100 incidents involving teachers and other school employees, our investigation found.
Nathan Davis from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said that, statistically, schools are "very safe" compared to other public places, and said: "We need to make sure that children are safe in school, but that they receive enough of a challenge to learn meaningful life lessons.
"There's a fine balance to be achieved when exposing children to controlled risk and challenge which helps them develop their full potential.
"We recognise the problems this poses to schools and how difficult it can be to convince others that risk has been properly considered and adequately controlled.
"To help schools achieve this, we ask that prevention of accidental injuries be included as a core topic within compulsory health education curriculum."
Ss John Fisher and Thomas More Roman Catholic High School, in Gibfield Road, Colne, told how two boys stood on a manhole cover before asking a girl to stand on it with them.
But as she stepped on it, they stopped off, causing it to tip and the girl to fall down the manhole. She broke her fall with her arms and the boys pulled her back out.
The school said the pair knew the cover, which was quickly repaired, was "wobbly and unsecure", though it said teachers did not.
At St Anne's Catholic Primary School, in Slater Lane, Leyland, a boy hurt his wrist when a goal was scored during a game of football, sparking a 'pile-on' where youngsters jump and lie on top of one another.
A school spokesman said the accident happened "during a weekend letting of the school field to a local football team who subsequently lodged a report", and added: "This letting had nothing to do with school and the incident did not happen as part of the school day/week".
At Lytham Hall Park Primary School, in South Park, Lytham, a school employee was signed off work after standing on a piece of LEGO and going over on her ankle, fracturing her foot.
And a worker at Elm Tree Community Primary in Skelmersdale was hurt after being "challenged to jump from one place to another by a pupil" in the car park.
He heard a loud crack - and was found to have broken his leg in two places.
A teacher at an unspecified Blackpool school was hurt after being hit in the eye by a shuttlecock during "horseplay in the staff room", while at Haslingden Primary School a worker was left needing first aid after being injured during first aid training.
"The first aid trainer instructed one of my teachers to perform abdominal thrusts on another teacher," the report filed with the HSE said.
"The teacher was wearing a specialist vest. The receiving teacher inflamed ribs and stomach muscles and a possible broken rib, but this was not confirmed by x-ray."
There was no suggestion any of the schools have done anything wrong, and many reports appear to have been filed despite there being no legal obligation to do so.
Guidance issued to schools says only injuries that "arose out of connection with a work activity" and result in the pupil being taken directly to hospital for treatment (and not as a precaution or for tests) have to be reported.
A child breaking their arm and being taken to A&E after tripping over a trailing cable in an IT lesson would constitute an incident that should be reported, but a child having a seizure in class would not.
Sporting injuries only need to be reported when they are caused by dodgy equipment or a lack of proper supervision while, similarly, playground slips, trips, and crashes only need to be reported when the pupil is taken to hospital for treatment and the condition of the premises or equipment was poor, or there was inadequate supervision.
And violence between pupils is seen as a disciplinary matter and not as something that should be reported to the HSE.
Several children broke bones playing football, rugby, and basketball.
Others tripped and fell over their own feet, while others fell from climbing equipment.
Other incidents were more serious.
At the Waterloo Lodge School, in Preston Road, Chorley, which caters for youngsters with social, emotional, and mental health needs, a teacher was helping a pupil in ICT when "she was drawn to another pupil to offer assistance", a report filed with the HSE said.
"Upon returning to the first student, he had become agitated and aggressive and proceeded to punch two computer monitors.
"The student then pushed her backwards onto a desk and forced her lower back against the computer tower with force.
"He continued to push her, forcing her to fall fully backwards over the desk. This caused injury to her back and neck, resulting in instant pain.
"Now on the floor, [the teacher] was finding it difficult to move and vomited. An ambulance was called to offer assistance. [The woman] was taken out of the school on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to Royal Preston Hospital."
The teacher had an x-ray which show tendon and muscle damage, while medics also said she had mild concussion.
She spent the night in hospital and was discharged the next day with strong painkillers and a neck brace."
At West Craven High School, in Kelbrook Road, Barnoldswick, a worker suffered a popped ear drum after a pupil "screamed directly" into their ear during an "altercation".
Headteacher Anne Bonney said: "This incident in February 2018 was unacceptable and a one-off. It was investigated and dealt with swiftly and seriously by the school.
"The member of staff was well supported and continues to be a part of our teaching team."
At Oakfield House School, in Station Road, Preston, which also caters for those with special educational needs, a "disruptive" pupil lashed out a broke a member of staff's nose.
The Department for Education declined to comment on RoSPA's calls, but will bring in compulsory health education from September next year.
Rather than teaching youngsters about how to keep safe from accidents, it will discuss internet safety and the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.
The education secretary, Damian Hinds, said previously: "Good physical and mental health is also at the heart of ensuring young people are ready for the adult world. By making health education compulsory we are giving young people the tools they need to be ready to thrive when they leave school."
County Coun Phillippa Williamson, Lancashire's children, young people and schools boss, said: "Keeping children safe from harm is an important part of school life.
"Schools should be a safe place for both children and adults and this is of upmost importance to us within our teaching and learning environments.
"It is important that children learn to understand and manage day-to-day risks, so that with advice and support from their parents and teacher they appreciate how accidents can be avoided."
And Edwina Grant, the county council's education and children's services boss, added: "Health and safety is important in schools and they are encouraged to regularly monitor and review their health and safety policies to ensure they are reducing risks.
"As part of this monitoring, schools investigate incidents and any appropriate action is taken.
"A range of health and safety measures are in place in order to reduce risk, report and rectify faults, and improve the safety and wellbeing of children and adults."
What accidents need to be reported?
FOR CHILDREN (AND SCHOOL VISITORS):
Injuries to pupils and visitors who are involved in an accident at school, or on an activity organised by the school are only reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) if the accident results in:
- the death of the person, and arose out of or in connection with a work activity; or
- an injury that arose out of or in connection with a work activity and the person is taken directly from the scene of the accident to hospital for treatment (examinations and diagnostic tests do not constitute treatment).
If the pupil hurt remains in school, is taken home, or is simply absent from school for a number of days, the incident does not need to be reported.
The school should consider whether the accident was caused by a failure in the way something was planned (eg inadequate supervision of a field trip), the way equipment or substances were used (eg lifts, machinery, experiments, etc), and/or the condition of the premises (eg poorly maintained or slippery floors).
The essential test for sports injuries if whether the accident was caused by the condition, design, or maintenance of the premises or equipment, or because of inadequate arrangements for supervision of an activity. Examples of incidents that should be reported are where:
- the condition of the premises of sports equipment was a factor in the incident, eg where a pupil slips and fractures an arm because a member of staff had polished the sports hall floor and left it too slippery for sports; or
- there was insufficient supervision to prevent an incident, or failings in the organisation or management of an event.
Most playground accidents due to crashes, slips, trips, and falls, are not reportable. Incidents should only be reported if the injury results in the pupil being killed or taken to hospital for treatment. Either is only reportable if they were caused by an accident that happened from or in connection with a work activity. This includes incidents happening because:
- the condition of the premises or equipment was poor, eg badly maintained play equipment; or
- the school had not providing adequate supervision, eg where particular risks were identified, but no action was taken to provide suitable supervision.
Violence between pupils is a school disciplinary matter and not reportable under RIDDOR.
The following work-related accidents must be reported if an employee is hurt, wherever they are working:
- accidents which result in death or a specified injury - without delay;
- accidents which stop the injured person from continuing their usual work for more than seven days - within 15 days.
Reportable injuries include breaks, amputations, injuries that could lead to blindness, crush injuries to the head of torso resulting in damage to the brain or internal organs, serious burns, serious scalping, loss of consciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia, or an injury from working in an enclosed space that requires resuscitation or a hospital stay of more than 24 hours.
Injuries from attacks by a pupil, colleague, or member of the public must be reported.
Occupational diseases must also be reported once a doctor gives a written diagnosis. They include carpal tunnel syndrome, severe cramp of the hand or forearm, occupation dermatitis, hand-arm vibration syndrome, occupational asthma, tendonitis or tenosynovitis of the hand or forearm, any occupational cancer, and diseases attributed to a on-the-job exposure to a biological agent.
RoSPA's national plan to prevent serious accidental injuries in England
The charity strategy advisory group's chairman Stephen Dorrell said: "Too many people - at all stages of life - are afflicted by accidental injury in England.
"Indeed, accidents are among the leading, but preventable, causes of death, serious injury, and long-term disability affecting our population, and they have been increasing in number.
"Hospital admissions as a result of accidents have also been rising. While we know that accidents can occur at any stage of life, we also know that those most vulnerable to accidental injury are the youngest, oldest, and poorest members of communities.
"By their very nature, accidents are unplanned, traumatic, and painful for the victims. They cause hardship within families when relatives lose earnings in order to care for their loved ones, and unquantifiable heartache.
"Employers lose productive employees and the health and social care system incurs significant treatment and rehabilitation costs.
"At a time when hospital emergency departments are having to cope with unprecedented levels of demand, it is vital that we recognise the contribution that accident prevention can make to ease the situation."
Mr Dorrell added: "A tried and tested combination of complementary approaches involving engineering, enforcement, and education has brought about significant reductions in accidental injury on our roads and in our workplaces in recent decades."
RoSPA's recommendations include pushing for the safer design of homes, arguing for lower speed limits in built-up areas, teaching children how to travel safely and how to avoid drownings, and working with business experts to address problems around consumer products and children.