Hundreds of children continue to be seriously injured while at school, costing the taxpayer more than £3.2 million in compensation over the past five years, according to the latest health and safety figures from three of England’s biggest cities.
Incidents include fractured bones and severed fingers, with many injuries resulting from unsafe classroom and PE equipment. The figures, obtained by health and safety experts Sound Advice following a Freedom of Information request, show that a total of 1,901 personal injury claims were lodged across Greater London, Birmingham and Greater Manchester since September 2008, 422 of which were successful.
Sound Advice’s lead health and safety consultant, Wayne Dunning, says: “These figures are shocking and clearly not enough is being done to protect children in schools from what are, in the main, preventable accidents. The statistics emerging from these three cities are only the tip of the iceberg and the total number of accidents occurring in schools across England and Wales no doubt runs into many thousands more.”
Throughout London’s 33 boroughs, more than £1.5 million has been paid out from council coffers after youngsters were involved in accidents at school. In Greater Manchester, more than £1.5 million was paid in compensation by local authorities across the area’s 10 boroughs. Birmingham City Council, the safest of the three cities, reported that just under £190,000 was paid out during the five-year period. London’s Croydon, Greenwich and Waltham Forest failed to provide any information.
Wayne adds: “Health and safety is not being managed properly in the education sector and this is costing taxpayers millions, not only in direct compensation, but also additional hidden costs from administration. It’s clear from the nature of the accidents that many areas are being overlooked by school managers and teachers, not through any fault of their own, but because they haven’t received the necessary health and safety training required to identify the potential risks and hazards that may prevent an accident from happening in the first place.
“These are quite basic health and safety failings and the government needs to invest more in training, so that accidents that put children in danger are avoided,” he concludes.