Student suffers permanent eye injury during gym class

field hockeyThis case involves a sixteen-year-old high school student who sustained a serious and permanent injury to her right eye after being struck by a field hockey ball during gym class. The students were never issued protective head/eye gear and no safety measures were in place to prevent such an occurrence. This particular high school used to issue the eye wear but during this period of time they neglected to supply the safety gear.



Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • Should the gym teacher have issued protective eye/head gear for a field hockey game, especially if they had in the past?

Expert Witness Response E-006833

This case has several issues that are of concern. The students playing field hockey should have been wearing protective gear during the entire course of teaching, training and playing, especially if that protective gear was available. Proper safety equipment in good condition for both male and female players should have been used. That the school used safety gear in the past indicates a recognition of the level of risk involved in playing the game as well as acceptance of responsibility on the part of the teacher and school for maintaining a safe environment. It is likely that the use of protective gear in the past prevented accidents or minimized injuries, indicating the importance of continued safety precautions for students.

It is the responsibility of the school, as well as the teacher supervising the class, to assess each activity to determine the level of risk involved. When possible risks have been identified, proper safety precautions, such as wearing protective gear, should be utilized on a regular basis. When safety gear, like eye-wear, is not used, students may assume that they are safe and be caught off guard with serious and devastating injuries. The fact that the school must have had some supply of eye-wear but did not use it on this particular occasion is a major oversight that put students at risk.

This expert is highly qualified in the field of physical education. With over 40 years of experience in the field, this esteemed physical education consultant has served as a department chair for a large university, he has a leading role in physical education for the entire state of Iowa, and he is a consultant for health promotion.

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