Regardless of where you work, or what industry you work in, you will generally find a well-documented Health & Safety procedure that has been established to not only meet legislation requirements but actually do something useful and protect teachers AND their students from injury.
Unlike Classroom based classes where the hazards are relatively small in number, those teachers who specialize in Physical Education (PE) have an ever present safety risk, before, during AND after the actual class.
Here are 7 considerations that can help PE Teachers and their classes be safe
Your typical P.E. class usually starts out with the setting up of the equipment. This right here represents an ever present risk to the safety of your students.
The Storage of PE Equipment should not be taken for granted. There are a few steps you can take to ensure that no injuries occur at this stage:
- Heavier Items stored at Low Levels reduces the risk of being struck on the head if something falls from above
- Ensure Walkways are clear
- With eyes usually on the equipment you are after, it can be easy to ignore ground hazards. But one false step could see a student trip and injure themselves and others. You’d hate for them to bump something that causes items to crash down on them
- There’s no need to send the whole class in to fetch equipment. The more bodies in the crowded space, the more confusion that can occur. Students can easily get distracted in a group. Have only enough students fetch the equipment that is needed for the lesson
The same applies to the end of the class when items are being returned to where they were taken
Things don’t last forever! Sports Equipment can deteriorate over time under normal conditions, but are also susceptible to problems at any time due to overuse or being misused in previous lessons. Equipment should be regularly checked for faults so that they can be identified BEFORE an incident occurs. That loose backboard can come crashing down. When you identify it. Fix it. It ‘won’t be right’
Is your First Aid Kit up to date? Do you even know where it is?. It’s important that regular stock take of the First Aid Box is undertaken. If you need to use items from it, then document it, and arrange for replacements soon after. Make sure you are aware of the required protocol for contacting emergency services and administering First Aid
It’s long been advised to remove all loose jewellery and belts before the class starts as they can actually lead to injury. Additionally, if the particular sport you are instructing that day requires any specific safety gear, ensure they are used
- Shin guards if playing Soccer or Field Hockey
- Rubber soled shoes to avoid slippages and ankle injuries
Stretching & Warmups
It’s easy to injure cold muscles. That is why professional athletes do a thorough warm up before competing, and why competitors at ALL levels perform simple stretching exercises before working out. Your class should be no different. Start off with a few stretches and some light physical activity before you kick your lesson into full gear. Be sure to allow time at the end of the lesson to properly ‘cool down’ and stretch again.
There’s also another reason you should warm that most don’t think about – especially if you teach younger age groups.
The best athletes don’t suffer from poor technique. Sure, if you position your body a certain way, or bend your knees a bit, you will generally perform better. Using this teaching angle should help you gain ‘buy-in’ from your students in wanting to learn the proper technique.
The big bonus here is that if you teach proper technique, and it’s followed, then you are already going a long way to ensuring your class don’t suffer any injuries. Most injuries during PE are caused by improper technique, or ‘showboating’. Stick to the basics and the fundamentals of the game for maximum safety.
Supervise your students and your activities. It is important to be actively vigilant with your class.
- If you see showboating, pull it up.
- If you see your students struggling with poor technique, address it and re demonstrate the correct one.
- Think a piece of equipment may be defective. Stop its use, put it aside and examine it after the class. Do NOT put it back with the other equipment
- Look for injuries. Some students want to keep playing despite developing an injury, where others may be too embarrassed to say something. Minor injuries can worsen if not treated.
Health and Safety can come in other forms than just those listed. Nothing is more important than the Health and Safety of your students and it is your responsibility as teachers to ensure that they remain healthy and stay safe. Most can be avoided with simple common-sense, but it never hurts to review the Health and Safety scorecard of your PE Classes. Government regulations concerning Health & Safety can change from time to time. Be sure you are aware of any new requirements and you’ll have done your part to ensure your classes are SAFE.