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Injury compensation news 08/01/2007

171,954 worth of work accident compensation claims made by teachers

The Educational Institute of Scotland has recently revealed that compensation claims made by its members following accidents at work cost public funds a staggering 200,000 during 2005/2006.

Major concern shown by the EIS, Scotland's largest teaching union, is that health and safety standards within educational institutions are not as good as they should be and that employers, that is the local council that the teachers work for, should be maintaining higher standards to protect their staff from the risk of personal injuries.

What types of compensation claims have been made?
According to the EIS, slips, trips and falls have been the biggest causes of workplace injuries to their members.

The EIS has also stated that the number of serious attacks and accidents at work and the level of compensation awarded has not changed since 2004/2005. However, the amount of compensation paid to teachers who have sustained personal injury in classroom assaults has risen six-fold since 2005 and this year victims received more than 56,000 following such assaults.

Just two weeks before these figures were revealed it was reported in the media that nearly two-thirds of local education authorities have failed to expel a single student during the last five years in spite of the fact that levels of violence have drastically risen in schools.

The actual amount of compensation claimed last year was 171,954 but when legal fees were added to the equation the amount of money deducted from public funds was 250,000. Some of the highest compensation awards made to EIS members during 2005/2006 include:

Teachers who were injured while trying to break up fights in the playground or injured while pushing pupils in wheelchairs also made successful compensation claims.

Hefty compensation claim bills
Suggestions have been made that the parents of pupils that cause personal injury to their teachers should be responsible and this may, in turn, encourage them to discipline their children and prevent such accidents occurring.

But in reality, it seems that securing the safety of teachers within their working environment should be a major priority and the best course of action to make sure that members of the EIS, and indeed teachers working in the rest of the UK, are not exposed to the risk of harm and subsequently having to enlist the help of personal injury solicitors to make accident compensation claims.

Health and safety action
The Scottish executive has tried to secure a safer working environment for teachers by suggesting that schools appoint behavioural co-ordinators who are teachers trained to help deal with disobedient pupils.

So far this seems to have worked to no avail and David Eaglesham, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers association, has stated, "We haven't had as much support as we could have from the local authorities.

"We want to encourage a zero tolerance approach, but it requires a sustained, long-term hearts and minds campaign by everyone involved in education."

There has been some controversy surrounding who should be held accountable to pay out for successful compensation claims made by teachers who have had been harmed in work accidents because as it stands the tax payer is footing the bill.

EIS General Secretary, Ronnie Smith has insisted that the only way forward to decrease the amount of work-related injuries suffered in places of education is for employers to take the health, safety and welfare of their staff more seriously, "Employers have a duty to assess and minimise the risk facing teachers, and also to send a clear message that all violent conduct - physical or verbal - will not be tolerated or condoned."