Councils fork out thousands in compensation cash to own staff
THREE of Scotland’s biggest councils have paid out £164,000 in compensation cash to their own workers over the past two years.
Payments included £5,000 to an employee who was injured after slipping on ice while “pulling a wheelie bin” and almost £8,000 to a worker who fell down a manhole.
The payouts were among dozens handed out by Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling city councils since 2010.
The three council’s have paid out 164k in compensation.
A total of 45 employees at the three councils received the compensation payments, giving an average of £3,644 each. A further 61 demands were turned down.
Critics said taxpayers should not have to pay out compensation to council workers who lacked “common sense” – and warned that the Scotland-wide bill would be “much higher.”
The compensation claims relate to a period between April 2010 and April 2012 and were revealed under Freedom of Information legislation.
Stirling Council granted 13 compensation claims over this time, including the of all – £12,500 paid to an employee who suffered an injured left arm “whilst lifting vibrating plate from ground level to flatbed truck”.
The council also paid £4,500 to an employee who “lost balance and fell to the ground when descending unsafe portacabin steps”.
A further £4,650 was paid to a social services worker who “slipped on cleaning fluid in the kitchen area” and £3,250 was given to a worker from ‘Roads Maintenance’ after a “mini tractor employee was driving toppled over” due to snowy weather conditions.
Edinburgh City Council, which is struggling with its massively over-budget trams project, forked out £7,618.34 to a male employee from the “services for communities” department who “fell down a manhole”.
The same department also dished out £10,952 after a security door fell on a male employee and a further £5,049 to an employee who complained about “inadequate lighting”.
On top of this, Edinburgh Council was forced to pay £6,600 to a “health and social care” worker after she “slipped on a wet floor”.
The council also has some ongoing claims for “injured arm pulling bin” several lifting accidents, and a compensation claim for “repetitive strain injury”.
Glasgow City Council revealed it paid out more than £72,000 in the two year period, but refused to give any details at all on individual compensation requests, claiming it would break data protection laws.
The council admitted at least one of the claims was related to “violence”. It said most of the others related to operating machinery, appliances, equipment, slip, fall or violence.
Aberdeen Council flatly refused the Freedom of Information request, claiming doing so would cost £750.
The three councils have refused to pay more than 60 claims from workers in the past two years – including an employee who was bitten by a dog and another who hit their leg on a shower stool.
Other refusals include a female Edinburgh Council employee who tried to claim after tripping “on tree root on tarmac pavement” and a “customer services” worker at Stirling Council “diagnosed with tennis elbow due to constant keyboard work.”
Robert Oxley, Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Scottish councils must cut down on the number and cost of avoidable accidents. The bill to taxpayers for compensation is unacceptably high.
“While some staff might have legitimate claims because of negligence, there is a worrying rise in compensation culture across local government offices. Taxpayers should not be footing the bill for cases where a bit of common sense would have avoided the accident.
“Given the size of the bill that has been revealed for only a small number of councils, the Scotland wide bill is almost certainly be much, much bigger.”
Eben Wilson at TaxpayerScotland added: “Councils spend millions on training courses and safety measures trying to avoid these claims, but they do not seem to stop as many payments as could be expected.
“While we need to show every sympathy and caring when there is serious injury, too many of these incidents involve large pay-outs for what appear to be less serious events. Once again, we see the ease with which local councils end up spending taxpayers’ money; usually due to poor management that does not stand tough against trivial claims.”
An Edinburgh council spokeswoman, said: “It is important that we use public money wisely but we appreciate that in some cases it is appropriate that claimants are financially compensated.”
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