School accidents cost ACC $75,000

Acc paid out $75,000 in claims to pupils and staff in Queenstown Lakes district schools last year with the most expensive accident - a staff soft-tissue muscle injury - costing $25,000.

ACC spokesman Laurie Edwards said staff lodged 25 claims at a total cost of $35,975 while students put in 214 claims at a total cost of $39,403.

A claim for a concussion, the priciest pupil accident, cost $1812"The average cost of these claims is fairly low, suggesting that the vast majority of the incidents are relatively minor," Mr Edwards said.

The Queenstown Lakes pupil claims represented just 0.53% of the national total in 2010.

Among pupils, loss of balance/control led the table with 76 claims, followed by struck by person/animal (31) and collision/knocked over (28).

Other pupil categories with more than 10 claims included lifting/carrying/strain, slipping/skidding on foot, tripping/stumbling and "twisting movement".

"To simplify the amount of claim information ACC receives, we use a system of recording data that includes categories for accident causes, geographical location, scene of accident," Mr Edwards said.

The "cause" category includes the descriptors "struck by person/animal" and "struck by held tool/implement" but he said it was "important to note that the vast majority of these claims were not criminal assault.

Rather they can include incidences of insect or animal bites, physical education accidents, and contact between pupils and teachers that may have caused harm but was unintentional, such as a playground collision.

Nationally, schoolyard injuries to pupils cost $14 million last year with principals saying obesity, a "bubble-wrap" culture and a lack of milk were behind many injuries.

ACC figures show more than 60,000 pupils were injured at school last year, with 7534 staff making claims worth $4.6 million for injuries at school.

Last month, Canterbury Primary Principals' Association president John Bangma said he thought society was so averse to risk that children did not know how to fall properly and were hurting themselves by putting their arms out when they fell, instead of rolling, The Press reported.

"Children are no longer allowed to climb trees. They're no longer able to play contact sports at lunchtime and some of the children don't know how to fall. If they don't experience falling, they'll never know how to fall," Mr Bangma said.

Otago Primary Principals' Association president Bernadette Newlands said there had been a marked change in what was once a "free-spirited" but often risky playground culture since she began teaching in 1979.

"I think we are a lot more careful ... so perhaps children aren't as adventurous.

"It's quite rare to allow children to climb trees in playgrounds but there's a balance between letting children learn to play safely, have fun and learn to be adventurous while at the same time making sure they don't break bones needlessly or injure themselves in a way that's going to impact them later on in life," Mrs Newlands said.



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