Danger: civil servants at work

TEACHERS FED up with endless government initiatives and bureaucracy might care to spare a thought for the accident-prone civil servants who dream them up.

Official information reveals that the Department for Education and Skills can be a very dangerous place to work, a place where employees are under attack from car park barriers, lift doors and falling whiteboards.

The catalogue of mishaps is disclosed in a parliamentary answer listing all the compensation payments made by the department during the last financial year. They include pound;23.38 for clothing damaged on the sharp edge of a desk and pound;40 for a watch "damaged by premature closing of lift doors".

The department had to cough up pound;3,200 when a whiteboard fell off a wall and hit someone, injuring their shoulders and head. Then contaminated water flooding from ceiling pipes led to a claim of pound;77.20 for damaged clothing.

Car park barriers were at the root of two payouts. One person got pound;210 for physiotherapy after being hit on the head. But property seems to be more valuable than the flesh because a motorcycle helmet damaged in the same circumstances merited pound;269.99.

There was a total compensation bill of pound;48,742.01 during the financial year. The biggest payments were pound;13,504 for the unfair dismissal of a temporary member of staff and pound;13,400 for loss of employment as part of a compromise payment to "avoid subsequent litigation". Road accidents involving DfES drivers led to four payouts, three of them worth several thousand pounds.

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