Larry Flanagan, EIS general secretary
AFTER being smacked in the face with a musical instrument, a Scottish teacher was awarded more than £3000 in compensation.
A recent annual report was released which revealed the compensation payments that were being awarded to school staff after incidents of violence or accidents at work. The said case of the Scottish teacher being hit in the face was revealed as part of this report.
In 2013-2014, around £180,000 was paid out in compensation to Scottish teachers and lecturers. However, this figure has actually dramatically decreased from the 2012-2013 stats, which showed that the total topped £300,000.
The highest compensation payment was £50,000, which was awarded to a teacher who fell on ice in the playground and hit their head, suffering severe injuries.
The EIS general secretary, Larry Flanagan, had this to say about the matter: "The reduction is positive because it highlights the fact there have been fewer very serious injuries to teachers and lecturers at work over the past year.”
Mr Flanagan was happy with the decline in numbers, but warned that this decrease was due to the claims procedures now having tougher restrictions.
"The main goal must always be to avoid accidents and prevent injuries to education staff, but whenever an EIS member is injured in the course of their work, we will continue to do all that we can to achieve a fair settlement on their behalf."
Mr Flanagan then proceeded to attack the procedures of many insurance companies as they often delay the process by refusing to pay out any compensation until the last minute.
He said: "The total compensation bill would decline dramatically if insurance companies admitted liability earlier, thereby avoiding the accrual of unnecessary medical and legal bills."
Some serious cases may be highlighted where teaching staff have been assaulted, but in reality the EIS published compensation settlements which revealed that the most popular cause of injury suffered by teachers and lecturers alike are accidents, usually involving falls caused by one slipping or tripping over.
Mr Flanagan commented on this: "Such accidents are completely avoidable if employers implement basic, inexpensive safety requirements."
"Compensation payments are made because by some employers continue to fail to protect their staff from avoidable workplace injuries. These can often be avoided by effective risk assessment and correct adherence to simple health and safety procedures."
An education spokesman for Cosla, Douglas Chapman spoke on the matter: "It is important to emphasise that teaching is a very safe profession, and local authorities take extremely serious the safety and wellbeing of all staff and pupils."
"There are over 50,000 teachers and over 700,000 pupils in school and pre-school so accidents or incidents will occasionally take place."
"Serious incidents are rare, but parents and teachers should be assured that authorities and schools have in place policies to deal with situations that may arise."
The Scottish Government backed their staff and a spokesman was seen to have said: "Every pupil and teacher should feel safe from harm at school and in their community. Local authorities have a statutory responsibility to maintain their schools to a safe and sufficient standard and make it clear that violence of any sort is unacceptable."
The decrease in compensation claims can partly be due to the changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, made by the Coalition Government in 2012. These changes have restricted pay-outs so that compensation is only awarded to those who suffer serious injuries.
Other changes by the Coalition Government have seen a decrease in claims in other areas. Personal injury claims have reduced partly due to Section 69 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, which was introduced in October 2013.
With these new provisions, it means that employers are no longer liable for a breach of the Health & Safety at Work Act (HSWA) regulations, which used to be seen as a criminal offence in the civil courts.
Now, workers who are injured due to an employer's breach of a statutory duty within HSWA regulations will have to prove that the employer was negligent. They can no longer claim there was a breach on the regulations.
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