Injury Prevention in Schools

Contact(s)

Injuries can occur in a number of ways during the school day. Children and youth can get injured on the playground, while playing sports, while participating in extracurricular and intramural activities, during physical education class, and even during general daily activities.

To access the minimum requirements for risk management practices for physical activities in the education sector, visit Ophea’s Ontario Physical Activity Safety Standards in Education (OPASSE). Here, you will find safety guidelines specific to extracurricular, curricular and intramural activities, categorized by either the elementary or the secondary school level.

Health Unit Injury Prevention Resources to Borrow: The Health Unit lends out concussion goggles and a brain mold kit. 

Concussions

A concussion can have major effects on child and youth health and well-being, as well as on their cognitive, physical, emotional and social abilities. Children and youth are at higher risk of experiencing a concussion. This risk is highest when playing activities where there may be collisions, such as during school activities, time spent on the playground, or during school excursions.

Concussion links and resources for schools and school boards:

Please find here the Ministry of Education’s updated PPM 158 School Board Policies on Concussion for school boards, school authorities and provincial and demonstration schools. This PPM has been edited by the Ministry and now aligns with Rowan’s Law. PPM 158 is effective as of January 31st, 2020.

Rowan’s Law is a concussion safety legislation aimed at protecting athletes by improving concussion safety and protocol, both on the field and at school. Rowan’s Law Day (last Wednesday of September) has been in effect since 2018. Rowan’s Law regulations have been in effect since July 1, 2019. In 2019, awareness resources and codes of conduct will be available for athletes, parents/guardians and coaches. In 2020, removal-from-sport and return-to-sport protocols will be released and will be aligned with Rowan’s Law. Please see the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Concussion Portal for Rowan’s Law information and this link for school-specific Rowan’s Law information.

The Ministry of Education Healthy Schools Concussion Portal provides information and resources for parents, educations, students and coaches pertaining to concussion prevention, identification and management.

Parachute Canada - Concussions: This link provides you with resources and information on concussions, as well as concussion protocols for schools and health professionals, concussion guidelines, return-to-school and -sport strategies, and a link to the Concussion ED app that allows you to increase your general knowledge on concussions. All resources and information are available in both French and English. 

For up-to-date information on concussion protocols and implementation tools, visit http://safety.ophea.net/concussions.

Cycling Safety

See the Ministry of Transportation’s Young Cyclist Guide for general cycling safety, rules of the road, hand signals, helmet and parent information. Also available in French.

Parachute Canada - Safe Cycling: This link provides you with resources and additional information regarding safe cycling, as well as a Public Service Announcement video about bike safety (available in multiple languages). Parachute also answers Frequently Asked Questions in regards to safe cycling and helmets

Helmet Safety

Visit Parachute’s helmet section for activity-specific helmet information.   

Ottawa Public Health has created a helpful table on recommended helmets for different activities. 

Road Safety

Ontario Road Safety: This link allows you to explore grade-specific teaching materials, resources and lessons plans pertaining to road safety. Also available in French.

Here is info on Take Back Our Roads, an initiative aimed at making roads and school safety zones safer.

Find out more on how to get kids walking, cycling and rolling to school. To initiate active school travel at your school, visit this link for School Travel Planning and this link for the School Travel Planning Toolkit. Please click here for more active school travel information.

As part of their Share the Road campaign, Algoma Public Health has created a video that highlights the one-metre rule for cyclists. Click here to watch the full two-minute video and here to watch the 30-second video.

Sun safety

Children and youth spend a lot of their time at school. Ensure that their school time spent outside is done in a sun-safe way. Consider the shade opportunities that exist in your schoolyard, like planting trees or adding additional shade structures. Promote a sunscreen-positive culture at your school. 

Canadian Cancer Society SunSense Certification: The SunSense Certification recognizes schools that have created a sun-safe and sun-smart environment to protect their students and staff from the harmful effects of the sun! If your school has undertaken sun-safe initiatives, register for your certification for the upcoming school year! This website and information are also available in French. 

Check out Canadian Cancer Society and Evergreen Foundation’s Sun Safety Policy Guidelines for Schools. This document is also available in French.

 

Safer Sharps Pick-Up and Disposal

 

Teaching Tools for the Classroom

Educator Talking Points

Classroom Activities

Circle the Sharp Object (JK - Grade 2)

Sharps Sorting (JK – Grade 5)

Sharps Trivia (Grades 3-5 & 6-8)

Touch, Don’t Touch (JK – Grade 2)

What Do You Do If You Find a Sharp? (Grades 3-5 & 6-8)

Posters and Postcards

Sharps Dos and Don’ts

What To Do If You Find a Needle

Safe Sharps Pick-up and Disposal

Introduction to Sharps in the Community

What is a sharp?

A sharp is any object that has the ability to puncture or cut someone or something. Examples of sharps include: hypodermic needles, syringes, lancets, intra-venous lines, scalpel blades, broken glass, sharp edge materials, knives, razor blades, and any other item(s) that may cut or puncture the skin, which may have also been contaminated by blood or bodily fluids.

Where in the community are sharps found?

Sharps should always be disposed of in a biohazard or hard-sided puncture-proof container (e.g., pop bottle, laundry container with a lid) and then dropped off at an appropriate disposal site (see section on ‘Sharps Disposal’ below). That being said, sharps are sometimes discarded in the community and may be found anywhere such as parks, beaches, alleyways, sidewalks, garbage cans, recycling bins, public washrooms, and residences. Discarded sharps is a long-standing community-wide issue.

Sharps Handling and Pick-Up

What do I include in a safer sharps pick-up and disposal kit?

It is recommended that a safer sharps pick-up and disposal kit contain the following items:

  • Puncture-proof or disposable gloves
  • Tongs, forceps or tweezers
  • Biohazard or hard-sided puncture-proof container with a lid (e.g., pop bottle, laundry jug)
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Information outlining precautions and how to pick up a sharp safely

Putting together a safe sharps pick-up and disposal kit is inexpensive and easy to do.

How do I pick up and dispose of a sharp safely?

1. Gather and prepare equipment.

Gather a hard-sided puncture-proof container (e.g., biohazard container, pop bottle), puncture-proof or disposable gloves, and tongs. Place the container on flat, stable surface.

2.  Pick up the sharp.

Put on puncture-proof or disposable gloves. Pick up sharps one at a time using tongs. If you do not have tongs, and are comfortable, pick up the sharp by its shaft/barrel (if it’s a needle). Place sharp into the container with the sharp end pointing down.

Note:
  • Do not hold the container in your hand.
  • Do not recap needles.
  • Do not insert fingers into the opening of the biohazard or hard-sided puncture-proof container.
  • Do not try to pick up more than one at a time.
  • Keep your free hand out of the way when picking up a sharp. 

3.  Dispose of the sharp.

Secure the lid of the biohazard or hard-sided puncture-proof container. Place the container in a community sharps bin or bring it to a local needle exchange service or pharmacy.

4.  Wash hands and clean equipment.

Remove and dispose of gloves into the garbage. If puncture-proof gloves or tongs were used, wipe them down with a disinfectant wipe and allow to air dry. Wash your hands with soap and water.

What other types of precautions should I take when handling sharps?

Additional, universal precautions and safety tips for handling sharps include:

  • Always assume that blood and body fluids are infectious.
  • Get vaccinated against Hepatitis B.
  • Do not bend or recap used needles.
  • Never reach into a biohazard or hard-sided puncture-proof container.
  • Dispose of biohazard or hard-sided puncture-proof containers when the content reaches the full line.
  • Cover cuts, rashes or broken skin.
  • Wear gloves when handling possibly contaminated blood or bodily fluids.
  • Do not eat or drink in a work area.
  • Report minor malfunctions of sharps.

How should unopened needles found in public places be handled? What if unopened sharps are mixed with used drug equipment and needles? What do I do?

For the protection of anyone who is picking up used needles, it is not recommended to sort through to pick out what is used and what is not. Since it may be difficult to determine which packages are opened, ripped or empty, it is suggested that opened and unopened sharps, such as needles, be placed in a biohazard or hard-sided puncture-proof container to reduce risk of accidental injury.

Sharps Disposal

Where can I dispose of sharps safely in the community?

Sharps should be placed in a biohazard or hard-sided puncture-proof container, where possible, prior to disposal. Sharps and biohazard or hard-sided puncture-proof containers can be discarded at a number of places across the Nipissing and Parry Sound districts. These include:

  • Needle syringe programs
  • Most local pharmacies
  • Hazardous Waste Depots
  • Community sharps bin
  • Biohazardous waste receptacles located in business or agency washrooms 

For details on where to dispose of sharps in your area please email: harm.reduction@healthunit.ca 

Where should sharps not be disposed?

Sharps should not be disposed of in garbage or recycling bins. They should not be flushed down the toilet and should be kept out of the reach of children and pets. 

Reporting Sharps

Who can I call if a sharp or needle is found on public property?

If you find a needle on public property and are not comfortable picking it up, please call your local public works department.

Who can I call if a sharp or needle is found on private property?

There is currently no phone number to call if a sharp or needle is found on private property. It is the responsibility of private property owners (or landlords) to discard sharps found on private property.

Biohazard Puncture-proof Containers

My workplace or organization wants to purchase biohazard puncture-proof containers. Where do I order these from and how much do they cost?

Biohazard puncture-proof containers come in a wide range of sizes, styles and forms. Containers are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased from a number of distributers. For more information on where to purchase or pick-up biohazard puncture-proof containers please contact harm.reduction@healthunit.ca

Needle Stick Injuries

What types of risk are associated with discarded sharps in the community?

Contaminated needles or sharps can inject infectious fluid through the skin and into the body. This can happen when sharps are improperly handled or picked-up by community members including children, health care workers, and anyone else. When sharps are handled in a safe manner, the risk of a needle stick injury is low. Needle stick injuries can also occur when individuals do not know that a sharp is present - this could include municipal workers who are not aware of sharps in garbage or recycling or children who do not see sharps buried in the dirt at a playground. Safe sharps disposal is important in trying to reduce accidental injury.

If a needle stick injury does occur, individuals could contract:

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Other viruses

For detailed information on blood borne or injury-related infections, please refer to the following fact sheets and/or information:

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis C

Tetanus

What factors influence disease transmission from a needle stick injury?

The risk of infection from a needle stick injury after exposure varies by pathogen as well as other factors. These include:

  • Depth of needle penetration
  • Amount of blood or bodily fluid in the needle
  • Virus and lifespan of the virus
  • When needle was used (including how long it has been in the environment)
  • Health status of person who used the needle
  • Immune status of individual who has received injury

The risk of infection from a needle stick injury also varies by pathogen (e.g., HIV, Hepatitis B) and the lifespan of the pathogen. The risk of infection from a needle stick injury for common viruses, follows. Some of these agents can live on surfaces or objects for extended periods of time so it is important to use universal precautions.

How do you address a needle stick injury?

Needle stick injuries are rare but when they do occur it is important to seek medical attention. First, determine if your agency has a workplace policy around this. If it does, follow all recommendations and information outlined in the policy for addressing needle stick injuries. If your workplace does not have a policy for needle stick injuries, the following is recommended:

  • Allow the wound to bleed freely.
  • Wash the injured area with soap and water.
  • Report the incident to a supervisor.
  • Determine the significance of exposure.
    • If there is a significant risk exposure then seek medical attention immediately (e.g. Emergency Department).
    • If there is a low risk exposure (or if exposure occurred more than 72 hours ago), consult with a primary health care provider (e.g., walk-in clinic, family physician), preferably within one week of exposure.
    • If there is no risk of exposure, medical follow-up is not required.
  • Work with health professionals to determine if post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) or testing (i.e., HIV, hepatitis C) is recommended.
  • Document the incident.

 

 

 

North Bay

345 Oak Street West
705-474-1400

Parry Sound

70 Joseph Street Unit #302
705-746-5801

Burk's Falls

17 Copeland Street (by appointment only)
1-800-563-2808