Student Injuries

Why are students injured at school?

There are many factors that put students at risk for injuries, including:

  • Poor monitoring and supervision of children
  • Risk-taking behaviors among students
  • Poor decision making skills among students
  • Inadequately maintained equipment
  • Lack of school personnel awareness of injury prevention
  • Lack of athletic conditioning
  • Lack of knowledge of appropriate safety procedures

Utah Stats

  • Each year in Utah, enough students are hurt at school to fill the average school classroom 87 times.
  • Over 5,000 school days are missed each year, 9-1-1 is called twice a day, and a student is hospitalized every other day because of a student injury.
  • During the 2016-2019 school years, 1,521 Utah students suffered a concussion while at school.1

The Utah Department of Health tracks these injuries through a voluntary program called the Student Injury Reporting System. The data helps schools identify problem areas, eliminate risks for injury (such as repairing broken equipment), and develop programs to reduce students’ risks for injury.

“Each year in Utah, enough students are hurt at school to fill the average school classroom 87 times.”

Elementary Public School Injuries

In Utah elementary schools (grades K-6), 923 student injuries were reported during the 2017-2018 school year. That’s enough students to fill the average Utah elementary school classroom 38 times. In addition,

  • 63% of student injuries occur on the playground or play field.
  • 63% of these injuries happen during recess.
  • The activities during which injuries occur the most are running (29%), playing on bars (11%), and walking (11%).
  • The most common injuries received are bump/bruise/contusions, pain/tenderness, cut/lacerations, abrasions/scrapes, and concussions. 

Secondary Public School Injuries

In Utah secondary schools (grades 7-12), 1,412 student injuries were reported during the 2017-2018 school year. That’s enough students to fill the average Utah secondary school classroom 49 times. In addition,

  • 29% of student injuries occur in the gym. Collisions cause 45% of these injuries followed by tripping or slipping (15%) an overexertion/twisted (13%).
  • The majority of injuries occur during PE class.
  • The most common activities during which injuries occur during PE class are classroom activities (18%), running (14%), and playing basketball (13%).
  • The most common injuries received are bump/bruise/contusion, pain/tenderness, cut lacerations, and sprain/strain/tear.

Ways to Prevent Student Injuries

  • Encourage your school provides playgrounds with soft surfaces.
  • Build family support and connectedness.
  • Build a positive relationship and commitment to school administrators.
  • Provide proper supervision/ parental engagement.
  • Teach your child problem solving skills.

Safety tips are different for elementary and secondary-age students because injuries occur in different settings.

For elementary school students

  • Establish playground safety rules (such as no pushing, crowding, or shoving) with consequences for breaking rules.
  • Always have trained adult supervisors present who:
    • Spread out and avoid congregating in groups.
    • Walk around the entire perimeter of the playground.
    • Find areas that allow sight from one end of the playground to the other.
  • Develop a playground inspection and equipment maintenance checklist.
  • Schedule regular inspections and promptly repair broken playground equipment.
  • Establish a school climate that demonstrates respect, support, and caring and does not tolerate harassment or bullying.
  • Provide first aid training for school staff as outlined by state guidelines.

“Our school’s recess rules are exactly what they should be. The rules are in place to keep us out of harm’s way.”

Darrell, a 5th grade student

For secondary school students

  • Provide regular injury prevention training for staff and students.
  • P.E. teachers and coaches should be certified in CPR and first aid.
  • Develop safety rules for gyms and train students to use equipment properly.
  • Equipment should be in good condition and appropriate for the child’s age and size.
  • Every athlete should receive a pre-season physical exam by a qualified health care provider.
  • Ensure that sports programs include conditioning, personal protective gear, and adult supervision.
  • Have a trainer, physician, or EMT present at all athletic practices and competitions.
  • Every athletic program should have an emergency plan to address medical care of injured athletics.
  • Athletes should never play a sport when injured unless cleared by a health care provider.
  • Conduct regular safety and hazard assessments in gyms and on sports fields.

If your child is being bullied, check out the Children’s Safety Network Bullying Prevention 2015 Resource Guide for help.


  1. Utah Department of Health, Violence and Injury Prevention Program, Student Injury Reporting System.