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pound;225,000 for fall down stairs

The new year message from the EIS is less than a happy one, reports David Henderson

A teacher who fell down the stairs while dealing with an unruly pupil won a pound;225,000 payout through the EIS. Another won pound;1,000 after falling into an orchestra pit.

The pound;225,000 award was the EIS's largest compensation settlement in 2002 and accounted for almost half the total sum won by union members after accidents at work. The teacher was unable to return to work.

A new booklet, Prevention of Slips, Trips and Falls in the Education Sector, is being published to alert schools and local authorities to the risks.

"The reality is that most accidents could be avoided if local councils and schools observed straightforward health and safety requirements," Ronnie Smith said.

Most of the claims were made to the civil courts and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. "Accidents lead to an increase in employers'

liability insurance premiums. However, for the individual teacher, the consequences of unsafe working conditions can be accidents involving injuries with considerable pain and suffering," Mr Smith added.

Among other incidents, a teacher was struck with a ruler by a pupil and was awarded almost pound;82,000; another won pound;29,500 after an assault; and a third teacher won pound;3,500 after being hit by a large window which fell into the classroom.

Tips to avoid slips and trips:

* are the different types of surface known and information recorded for reference?

* is each surface suitable for its environment?

* is each surface suitable for a particular activity - resistance to chemicals, oil, grease, hot substances?

* is each surface suitable for the type and amount of traffic?

* is each surface in good condition and free from damage or unevenness?

* are any changes in the level of surfaces(small steps, slopes etc) liable to be unnoticed due to inadequate lighting?

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