Compensation rise casts doubt on classroom furniture safety
According to figures from the Health & Safety Executive the education sector was in fact 4th in a league table of non-fatal workplace injuries, ahead of both the construction and transport industry fields.
The need for teachers to intervene in pupil fights and individual aggression has hit the headlines in recent times. There have been horrific injuries reported. There is also the spectre of workplace stress that has left some school staff applying for financial compensation. All of this has contributed to the fact that around £8.6 million has been paid out to school staff between 2014 and 2017.
However, one of the most significant reasons behind that huge compensation sum, was avoidable accidents and "make do" classroom furniture that proved unsafe. A shocking 34% of the compensation paid to injured school staff (£2.9m) was due to falls, slips, trips and school furniture fails.
How can classroom furniture safety lead to injuries and the need for compensation? Looking down a list of last year’s claims against local authorities, it includes a claim for a back injury falling from a ladder when putting up a display. Less foreseeable, there was also a substantial settlement for injuries sustained from a falling flip chart. It's no surprise, perhaps, that school desks stacked too high was also on the list, alongside injuries gained from moving heavy school furniture.
Even the most mundane of classroom items can prove risky if care is not taken - with a falling paper pack making it onto the list of compensation claims too. Clearly it is impossible to mandate against the vagaries of life that can sometimes lead to “freak accidents” resulting in injury. However, schools have a legal and ethical obligation to maintain very high Health & Safety standards.
<b>Is enough being done to keep school staff safe?</b>
Noncompliance is not just about fines, but also putting staff and students at risk of injury. Teachers have a tough job these days, and need to feel safe in classrooms, not just in regards to the pupils in their care but also the equipment they use in their daily working lives!
For ways of auditing and introducing school furniture that adheres to – and in some cases exceeds – current safety standards, contact us today.