Back blow ends career at 42

4th November 2005 at 00:00
A special-needs teacher in South Wales has won pound;250,000 compensation after suffering back injuries in an accident which forced her to give up work.

The 42-year-old spent almost two years on sick leave following the accident in November 1999, which occurred when she attempted to retrieve specialist equipment from the back of a local authority van.

She returned to work in June 2001 but was forced to retire early little more than a year later after her condition deteriorated.

The payment by Ceredigion council is one of five compensation cases pursued by the NASUWT, the second largest teaching union, which have yielded more than pound;550,000 in compensation for its members.

Two cases involved violence by pupils. A Preston teacher won pound;130,000 after being hit on the head by a brick thrown by a child from another school following a confrontation at the school's boundary fence.

A 47-year-old teacher suffering from multiple sclerosis retired after being attacked by a 12-year-old at Kingsdale school in Dulwich, south London.

Her condition was exacerbated by the attack and she was awarded pound;27,500 by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. The pupil involved in the attack was cautioned by police after the incident.

In other cases, a Reading Recovery tutor won pound;14,000 from Bristol council after a bookshelf fell on her while she was at work, injuring her shoulder.

Lancashire council has had to pay pound;130,000 to a 55-year-old craft and design technology teacher who contracted asthma after inhaling fine particles of sawdust.

The union's solicitors said the condition was caused by inadequate ventilation, a lack of protective equipment and inadequate warning about the risks of exposure to dust.

The teacher involved in the case, who had worked at the same school for nearly 30 years, said: "It was deemed safe enough for kids, but when you're exposed to dust day in and day out, that's very different.

"The big problem was that there was no adequate health and safety training or warnings. I didn't know I was at risk. I thought it was me, not work.

"It's not the school that's responsible. It's the council. It should provide the training and make regular assessments of working conditions.

"If it had done that, then the case would have never arisen and I'd still be doing the job I love."

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