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Teachers given £300,000 in assault and injury payouts

SCOTTISH school teachers and college lecturers received more than £300,000 in compensation payments last year for a variety of assaults and accidents at work.

The figures from the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union show one of the largest payments was £130,000 after a teacher was seriously assaulted by a pupil and suffered long-term injuries.
Another payment of nearly £7000 was made after a pupil threw a school sign into the face of a teacher causing a detached retina.
The member of staff had an operation, but has been left with permanent loss of peripheral vision.
In a separate incident, a teacher was punched in the face by a pupil and suffered a black eye and injuries to their cheek. The teacher received compensation of £4400.
However, while many of the most serious cases involve assaults on teaching staff, the compensation settlements published by the EIS reveal the most frequent cause of injury to teachers and lecturers continues to be accidents involving falls caused by slips and trips.
Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said: "Such accidents are completely avoidable if employers implement basic, inexpensive safety requirements.
"As well as causing suffering and injury to individuals, all of these accidents have caused financial losses to the employer and to the public purse. The taxpayer is paying a heavy price for the continuing failure by some employers to protect their staff from workplace injuries that could often be avoided by effective risk assessment and correct adherence to simple health and safety procedures."
Douglas Chapman, education spokesman for Cosla, the umbrella body for councils, said local authorities did everything possible to ensure the working environment for school staff was safe.
He said: "It is important to emphasise that teaching is a very safe profession, and local authorities take extremely seriously the safety and wellbeing of all staff and pupils.
"There are almost 50,000 
teachers and over 700,000 pupils 
in school and pre-school so 
accidents or incidents will occasionally take place. Serious incidents are rare, but parents and teachers should be assured that authorities and schools have in place policies to deal with situations that may arise."
The amount of compensation that the EIS achieved for members was down from the previous year's record high of more than £1.5m.
Mr Flanagan said: "This is actually a positive development, as it highlights that there have been fewer very serious injuries to teachers and lecturers at work over the past year.
"Ideally, we would eventually like to report a zero figure for work-related injuries as the main goal must always be to avoid accidents and prevent injuries to education staff.  
"However, whenever an EIS member is injured in the course of their work, we will continue to do all that we can to achieve a fair settlement on their behalf to provide appropriate compensation for the pain and distress that they have suffered."
Incidents of personal injury which resulted in compensation included many where staff slipped and fell on wet floors that were being cleaned but where no warning signs had been put up.
There were cases where uneven paths or obstacles left on the playground caused teachers to fall and injure themselves. In one case a teacher was awarded nearly £12,000 after breaking their leg falling on an uneven pathway.
Other common incidents related to cold weather where car parks had not been gritted and staff slipped over on the ice.
One teacher sustained an electric shock to the back of right hand and was paid £15,000.
One of the most bizarre incidents involved a teacher slipping over on a chip in a dinner hall in a Glasgow school and breaking their wrist. They received £4500 in compensation.
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