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£70k paid out over school mishaps
10:20am Wednesday 6th March 2013 in News
EDUCATION bosses in York have paid out almost £70,000 in minor injury claims following school accidents in the past four years.
Unions claim the figure of £69,579 is only the “tip of the iceberg”, with many slips, trips and falls still going unreported.
But a council spokesman said the city’s schools and colleges were regularly inspected, with health and safety issues being taken very seriously.
According to figures obtained by The Press using the Freedom of Information Act, 33 claims were made against City of York Council schools by pupils, parents and staff who had injured themselves over the past four years. The nature of the injuries included strains, sprains, broken and chipped bones and cuts and bruises.
Union spokeswoman Pam Milner, who is national executive member for North and West Yorkshire NASUWT, said: “We live in a highly litigious society. Whereas years ago somebody would have had a bump or scrape, a trip or a fall and they would have picked themselves up, done nothing more about it, and got on with the job, now that is not the case.
“These days, because we seem to be following America in all we do, we seem to have got increasingly litigious and want to apportion blame. But that said, I think these figures only tell half the story, as we still tend to underplay things and a lot of incidents still go unreported and never see the light of day.
“We know that it’s hard now for schools with budget cuts and there’s a lot of pressure put on them to save money, but budgets cannot be used as an excuse for not reporting health and safety issues. If head teachers have something brought to them which is a possible health and safety risk then they have a duty to act.”
A spokeswoman for City of York Council said: “The council takes any health and safety incidents or issues which have or could affect the health of any person working, attending or visiting its schools very seriously. We operate a rolling programme of inspections and audits for health and safety in schools, which is supported by the schools’ own in-house health and safety protocols.
“We also host a joint health and safety committee quarterly which involves GMB, Unite, Unison and NUT to discuss any issues or concerns.
“The last meeting was in February and no concerns on unreported or an increasing number of incidents were raised. Adhoc meetings can also be arranged, but these have not been requested.”