Health and Safety Matters: Beating the No Compensation Culture
The HSE have been making much of the fact that only 148 people were killed or fatally injured in the course of their work between April 2012 and March 2013, compared with 172 in the previous year. A closer look at the figures might suggest that this is a temporary blip. During the period 2009 -10 'only' 147 workers died but the number rose back to around 170 in each of the next two years. Neither do these figures include the estimated 20,000 people who die from illnesses, typically cancer, contracted because of exposure to hazards in the course of their work. A single person dying from their work is one person too many.
Of course Health & Safety is not just concerned with preventing deaths at work. A vast number of people have their health damaged by their jobs every year. Teachers and other school staff suffer from back and other musculoskeletal problems, damage to their voices, hearing and eyesight. Then there are mental health issues related to stress, not to mention possible exposure to asbestos. These are all things that may cause problems throughout a teacher's whole life.
Despite this, the government are determined to make it harder for someone to claim compensation from their employer or former employer for damage suffered at work. Recent changes to the law now mean that a claimant has to be able to prove negligence on the part of an employer and amongst other things need to show that the employer was aware of the potential harm being caused. This means that it has become more important than ever to raise concerns with your school as quickly as possible so that they cannot deny knowledge at a later date. This should be done in writing and you should keep a dated copy of your concern. Ask your school manager to give written confirmation that they have received it and if possible have the issue raised at your school H&S Committee so that it appears on the minutes.