Paraprofessionals deserve a safe workplace

In order to function properly and provide students with the learning experience they deserve, schools need a complete team to help the kids. Paraprofessionals are an important part of this team, but they are often overlooked when it comes to the implementation of safety protocol.

Paraprofessionals work closely with the children to help them with tasks throughout the day. While this is necessary, especially for some children who have specialized education plans, the safety of paraprofessionals shouldn't ever be placed on the back burner. One thing that has to be planned for is the risk of harm from the student.

Violence in the workplace

Some students who have special needs find it hard to control themselves. This presents a challenge for the paras because they have to figure out how they can stay safe while still helping the students.

Some students can have violent outbursts that put others around them in danger. They might hit, kick, bite or throw things. Unfortunately, simply telling the student not to do those things isn't going to work because many of them have mental health issues that lend to these behaviors.

Paraprofessionals are sometimes injured trying to keep students safe. They view all students as their own and will likely stand between a student who is having a violent outburst and others in the area. Unfortunately, this puts them in great danger.

Balancing a student's needs with para safety

Training is one way that paraprofessionals can remain safe. The problem is that it can't prepare them for all potential issues that might arise. Additionally, the nature of the job duty sometimes puts them in harm's way.

Finding a way to balance these factors is challenging, but federal and state laws dictate that employees must have safe workplaces. By addressing the individual challenges of each student and pairing the information with the training program for the paras, it might be possible to keep everyone safe. For example, paras can remain a specific distance away from a student who has violent tendencies. If they must go within that space, protective gear can be used.

It should never be assumed that paras are supposed to deal with violence or safety issues at work. When there is a problem and a paraprofessional is injured, legal action may be required. Understanding what to do when this happens can be beneficial to these hardworking men and women.

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