Over the past five years councils across the UK have paid out more than 75% million in compensation to employees having had accidents or received injuries at work.
While some payouts seem realistic and these people really did suffer injuries which could have, and should have, been avoided if other people hadn’t been negligent or irresponsible, others seem spurious and even frivolous. Compensation for hurting your back getting out of bed to answer the phone to your employer anyone?
Other injuries are positively ironic, in the truest sense of the word, such as the council employee awarded £6,000 when they broke a wrist during a first aid course.
Other awards were far more genuine and deserving, claims from ex employees who have developed mesothelioma and asbestosis after exposure to asbestos while employed as council workers. Their awards are made to care for their needs as they struggle to combat the effects of the disease and the loss of quality of life that the diseases they have contracted which they have lost.
Too Much Money For Nothing Much
Compare that to the council worker who was granted £7,750 when a pool table collapsed on them causing the loss of a toenail. And unfortunately it’s often the tax payer, rather than the councils’ insurance companies, who foot the bill. Manchester City Council is a prime example. Over the years it has awarded £2.6 million to employees who’ve been injured at work but only £250,000 of that came from insurance. The rest of the £2.45 million came from taxpayer money.
Many of the injuries sustained accidentally could have been prevented and were indeed foreseeable, slips and falls thanks to spillages and trip hazards being left unheeded along with manual handling accidents cost a fortune which just a few minutes compulsory training would have prevented.
Teachers threatened by pupils and refuse workers injured by misuse or unauthorised use of faulty equipment costs a small fortune and claims like these are outwardly defensible, however, what lies behind the story of the council employee who was awarded £5,500 because they hurt their back falling out of bed when they answered the phone to their boss is anybody’s guess. It’s hard to think of any other situation where some-one could be found culpable for negligently making a phone call!
Winning A Skipfull Of Compensation
While teachers are being threatened and abused in some schools others are suffering the physical agony of injuring a thumb on their school’s guillotine. The extent of their injury isn’t currently clear but the trauma was worth more than £9,000 to them. Another literally incredible traumatising event occurred when a Cookstown District Council employee who suffered scratches and bruising after falling into a skip. Meanwhile Teignbridge Council awarded £5,000 to a member of staff who got ‘dust in their eyes’ when using a street cleaning machine. Although, if they were not properly equipped or trained in the operation of this unit, why were they allowed to work with it in the first place?
And what about the Lancashire Council employee paid more than £9,500 when they strained their back reloading their printer? Of course we need health and safety practices in the workplace and, if some-one is injured while working for any other employer, be they an individual, company or council they should be entitled to reclaim money they lose thanks to loss of earnings, pain and discomfort, any additional childcare or travelling expenses going to and from physiotherapy but being awarded many thousands of pounds for ‘injuries’ which could only reasonably cause transient discomfort. Giving a council staff member £1,500 for being stuck in a lift because of an electrical fault seems farcical and taxpayers societies agree.
Emma Boon of the TaxPayers Alliance is understandably annoyed. She says that “the bill to taxpayers for compensation pay outs is unacceptably high. While some staff may have legitimate claims because of negligence there is a worrying rise in compensation culture in council offices.
“It’s outrageous that people are getting away with making claims for things like falling out of bed or getting a huge wedge of cash for losing a toenail.”
@DanCash is a features writer and blogger living on the south coast of England. If you have a legitimate claim for a personal injury or an accident at work you should get in touch with a personal injury lawyer. If your claim is spurious, please don’t, it’s costing us all too much money!