The principle that students taking part in physical activities consent to the inherent risks of the activity does not apply in the school context where the teacher, coach or intramural supervisor is responsible for teaching not only the skills of the activity but also teaching students how to participate safely.
Supervisory Officer Responsibilities
Ensuring health and safety in schools is an essential part of any supervisory officer’s responsibilities. To do this successfully, an effective health and safety management system needs to be in place.
In Ontario, school boards have safety obligations to:
- Students, under the Education Act (EA);
- Employees, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA); and
- Everyone after the fact if a critical injury or death occur.
(Source: Student Safety: A Guide for Supervisory Officers, Principals and Vice- Principals; Council of Ontario Directors of Education, 2013. www.ontariodirectors.ca/downloads/health_and_safety_/Englich_Guides/Safety%20Supervisory%20Officer%20Web.pdf
Principals have a defined Duty of Care, which can be found in the Ontario Education Act, Regulation 298, Section 11. Information can also be found in The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1-8: Health and Physical Education and The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9-12: Health and Physical Education.
Areas within the Duty of Care:
- Safe facilities
- Safe equipment
- Effective supervision (quantitative and qualitative)
- Proper/qualified instruction
- Inform participants of activity risks
- Provide first aid and medical accessibility
- Up to date in the area of program safety
- Support teachers in meeting their responsibilities for providing safe programs
As stated in the Ontario Education Act, Regulation 298, Section 20, "Ensure that all reasonable safety procedures are carried out in courses and activities for which the teacher is responsible".
Duties of care have been identified within various physical activity programs, including duty to:
- provide and maintain safe facilities;
- provide and maintain safe equipment;
- provide effective supervision (quantitative and qualitative);
- provide proper/qualified instruction;
- inform participants of activity risks;
- provide first aid and medical accessibility; and
- keep up to date in the area of program safety.