Work Shouldn’t Hurt

May 2022 Update: Work Shouldn’t Hurt Survey

May 21, 2022 – A critical area of the current school staffing crisis is among the employees who support the students with the highest needs. To better understand what they are facing and how to improve working conditions, OSEA launched a survey in April for special education (SPED) workers and others who work with high-needs and difficult students.

  • This survey closed on May 20, 2022
  • More than 2,300 represented employees responded!
  • A summary of the results will be made available
  • Your responses will guide and inform our advocacy to improve laws and regulations affecting all education staff

Work Shouldn’t Hurt Legal Campaign

Goal: to address the toll on classified staff from difficult and sometimes dangerous student behavior

  • 2015 – The Work Shouldn’t Hurt campaign was started by our union
  • It started with a series of investigative articles examining workplace violence involving special needs students and classified school employees
  • 2018 – These efforts culminated in a new law and health and safety rules that being implemented
  • With the current education staffing crisis and the stress of the pandemic on students and staff, this law is as relevant as ever!
  • 2023 –  OSEA succeeds in passing legislation that gives classified access to their students’ IEPs and requires districts to provide adequate training for staff working with students with special needs.

Be Aware of Your Rights

  • Recently hired school staff may not be fully aware of their rights under this law
  • Administrators may not be meeting their legal obligations
  • Do you know what to do if you are concerned for your safety or are injured due to working with a difficult student?
  • A lack of appropriate training and safety measures can result in bodily harm to:
    • Staff
    • Students
    • Others


Read more about the legislation and learn about the changes in Oregon OSHA rules that happened in 2018 to help combat the problem:

OSEA has also developed resources to help:


The following stories are the original series of articles that kicked off our campaign. You will hear the voices of employees who face the daily threat of violence and learn about the root causes of the problem. Contact your OSEA field representative immediately if you are concerned about your workplace safety.