£2m compensation paid to council staff as Norfolk authority pay out figures are revealed
09:23 21 April 2014
Councils have paid out more than £2m in compensation to staff who successfully claimed they were victims of psychological abuse, assaults, trips and other workplace injuries, new figures have revealed.
Facts and figures
■ Great Yarmouth – £348,500 (no details of claims).
■ Breckland – £39,750 (three workers).
■ South Norfolk – just over £19,000 (two workers).
■ West Norfolk – £7,000 to one worker.
■ Waveney – £5,000 to grounds maintenance worker hit by vehicle and just over £4,000 to housing worker who contracted mesothelioma.
■ North Norfolk – £23,400 and £5,500 to two female workers at the Cromer council offices who were hurt after falling.
■ Broadland – no claims.
■ Norwich – yet to reply.
In Norfolk, two county council workers received payments after suffering “psychological abuse”, while in Suffolk a member of school staff was awarded almost £200,000 after she was assaulted in a special school.
The figures, revealed through use of the Freedom Of Information Act, detail how more than a hundred council workers were successful in compensation claims between 2009 and this year.
Norfolk County Council paid out just under £442,000 following 44 claims. That included £30,600 which was paid to a member of staff who suffered psychological damage following psychological abuse and £56,340 to a worker who suffered psychological damage due to “incorrect procedure”. The council refused to give further details, saying that could lead to the identification of the workers.
Defective equipment was given as the reason for a county council worker receiving £35,000 for a knee injury, while “layout” was the less than illuminating reason given for a £33,023 payment for a back injury.
A back injury caused by falling on ice led to a £1,250 payment, while there were two head injuries as a result of “defective flooring”. Those led to payments of about £20,000.
A further 60 claims against the county council were not successful.
A spokeswoman for Norfolk County Council said: “We take the health, safety and well-being of our staff and those who use our services very seriously and have a very good track record of preventing injury and ill-health of our employees.
“We compare well against national data and have seen a continual downward trend in the data published around injury and ill-health.
“As a council we employ more than 6,000 people, so the number of injuries and subsequent claims represents a very low proportion. “We take any complaint from staff seriously and we will only pay compensation when there is clear evidence that an injury could have been prevented.
“Our focus is to continue to ensure that we provide a safe working environment, for both the welfare of our staff and to keep compensation payments to an absolute minimum.”
In Suffolk, just under £987,000 compensation was paid in 33 cases. It included just under £200,000 paid to a female member of staff who was assaulted in a special school. That claim dated from 1999, but took 10 years to be settled.
It also included just under £115,000 which was received by a uniformed firefighter who was injured on a training exercise.
A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: “We take the health and wellbeing of our staff seriously and have a range of procedures and support in place to protect and help them.
“On the relatively rare occasions that incidents do happen, they are dealt with by professional claims handlers and, of course, investigated rigorously.
“We continuously work to reduce safety risks through training, adopting best practice and supplying protective equipment to our employees.”
Cambridgeshire County Council paid £212,215 to 22 workers, including £68,000 to a teacher who fell at school and £31,000 to a teacher assaulted in a special school. Twelve further claims were not successful.
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Great Yarmouth Borough Council paid more than £348,500 as a result of successful compensation claims, although the authority did not give specific details of the claims.
Breckland Council paid £39,750 to three workers, while South Norfolk Council paid just over £19,000 to two workers, including just over £10,000 to a worker who was hurt after slipping. One claim was unsuccessful.
West Norfolk Council paid £7,000 to one worker, while two other claims were not successful. Four further claims have yet to be determined.
Compensation of £5,000 was paid to a Waveney District Council grounds maintenance worker who was hit by a vehicle, while the council also paid just over £4,000 to a housing worker who contracted mesothelioma.
A third claim against Waveney District Council, by a worker who says they suffer from vibration syndrome after using a pile driver has yet to be determined. A fourth claim, by a building control worker who said they were injured at work, was not successful.
North Norfolk District Council paid £28,900 to two claimants. £23,400 and £5,500 were paid to two female workers based at the Cromer council offices, who were hurt after falling.
Two claims - one for work related stress and the second for deafness caused by machinery - were not successful.
Broadland District Council has had no claims over the five year period. Norwich City Council has yet to reply to the Freedom Of Information request.