Home / Insights / Blog / PE teacher wins compensation for injury at work

PE teacher wins compensation for injury at work

PE teacher wins compensation for injury at work

A PE teacher has been awarded £41,000 in compensation after injuring himself at work. The unnamed 25-year-old man from the South East was demonstrating the long jump to a class of pupils when he suffered a difficult landing. Due to problems with the landing pit, the young teacher suffered soft tissue injuries to his leg, along with a dislocated knee.

The details of his compensation award were made public as the two main union conferences – the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) – began. The conferences discussed the increasing compensation payments made to teachers who have faced attacks from pupils, discrimination, or injuries at school as a result of breaches by their employers.

Record £40m awarded to teachers in compensation last year

The combined union figures showed that last year, a record £40 million in compensation was paid to teachers as a result of incidents at work. Figures from the NASUWT revealed that the Union recovered £20.7 million in compensation in 2014, compared to £15.6 million in 2013. Although the NUT does not publish headline total figures, it is believed that the size of awards stands in comparison to those of the NASUWT.

The data referred to in the conferences revealed a range of work place incidents. Some teachers received relatively modest payments, including a payment of £5,000 to a teacher who caught her foot in a coat lying on a cloakroom floor, and £2,700 to an individual that was injured by a badly-fitted water heater that fell on her as she made a hot drink. However, some cases showed significantly higher payouts.

A 63-year-old from Yorkshire and Humberside was awarded £85,000 in damages after suffering a broken hand, anxiety and stress, following an assault by a pupil. The teenager tackled the teacher to the floor after she tried to lead them out of the classroom following an attack on another pupil. In a similar incident at a private residential school, a female teacher was assaulted by a 14-year-old boy as she attempted to restrain him. The teacher suffered a pro-lapsed disc in her neck, with the incident causing the onset of depression. An award of £136,710 was made.

The highest individual payment reported by the NASUWT was for a retired science teacher who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2013. Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelial cells that make up the lining that covers the outer surface of most of the body’s organs, with the most common type developing in the tissues covering the lung. The overwhelming majority of mesothelioma cases are caused by an exposure to asbestos, and the teacher reported that between 1973 and 1984, she had been made to teach in classrooms that had the toxic substance in the prefabricated buildings, ceiling tiles and wall panels. She reported that she had been required to handle asbestos mats as part of her job as a science teacher, and had experienced tiles in one classroom repeatedly falling down.

Union urges employers to follow best practice

Commenting on the compensation paid to teachers, the general secretary of the NASUWT, Chris Keates, said:

“The tragedy is that in most cases compensation would be unnecessary if employers followed good employment practices and appropriate health and safety procedures. Instead, teachers have their careers, lives and health blighted”.

She added that: “While compensation is important, it can never make up for the fact that many of these teachers suffer permanent physical and mental injury and often cannot continue in their chosen career.”

An employer’s duty to reduce the risk of accidents at work

Your employer is under a duty to reduce the risk of accidents taking place in your workplace, wherever that may be. Your employer’s duty is to take all reasonable steps to maintain a safe place of work. In order to fulfil this duty, your employer must do certain things:

  • Carry out a thorough risk assessment in relation to the premises, equipment and all working practices;
  • Implement any changes that are necessary following that assessment to correct problems and reduce the risk of injury;
  • Ensure that training is provided to all employees to ensure that the correct – and safest – procedures are being followed;
  • Ensure that all work equipment is in good working order and that the relevant employees are provided with full instructions for use.

If you want to enquire about making a claim for an accident at work, please contact one of personal injury lawyers on 01895 207835 or 01895 207295. Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details as to the nature of the accident/clinical negligence and the injuries sustained to PI@ibblaw.co.uk and one of our team will be able to help you.