Nearly £230,000 has been paid out to teachers in Scotland as compensation for injuries at work, far lower than the figure of £450,000 seen in 2017.
Stats from the Educational Institute of Scotland show that the most common cause of injuries is slips, trips and falls, general-secretary Larry Flanagan explained, although some incidents were down to the likes of poor working environments, assault or accident.
“The decrease in compensation settlements in 2018, compared to the previous year, marks an improvement in the safety of Scotland’s educational establishments; however, there is still a long way to go towards the aim of eliminating workplace injuries in our schools, colleges and universities altogether,” Mr Flanagan went on to say.
Discussing the impact that Brexit might have on the working landscape and future health and safety legislation, he added that many of the workplace protections we have in place right now are due to EU legislation – and once we’re no longer part of the EU, it’s possible that such protections could “come under attack from the UK government”.
According to the TES, the biggest pay-out went to a teacher who was signed off work suffering from work-related stress, which then developed into depression and resulted in the employee’s eventual resignation.
And another teacher was handed £5,309 after being hit by a student with a plastic chair when they intervened to protect other youngsters.
Those involved in health and safety at schools may find it beneficial to keep an eye on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website, where you’ll find useful guidance and tips on sensible health and safety management in educational establishments.
Sensible management means that the school leadership team understands the policies and applies them practically to the real risks at school. School leaders should consult with staff to find practical solutions and strike the right balance when tackling health and safety issues and implementing new procedures.
Paperwork should also be kept to a minimum, with all significant hazards identified and the risks appropriately controlled. Precautions should be documented clearly as and when necessary.
As observed by the HSE, going beyond sensible management could entail being overly cautious. It is about doing what is reasonably practical to reduce significant risks by putting in place control measures to manage the real risks.
When schools fail to adopt a sensible balance, no one is responsible for health and safety and there’s a lack of understanding about priorities, risks and risk management.
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