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Health And Safety Attacks on education staff on the rise

GMB analysis of government Health and Safety Executive figures finds serious injuries shot up 24 per cent

THE number of serious injuries suffered by education staff in attacks has shot up by 24 per cent in the past five years, general union GMB said today.

Victims have suffered loss of sight, brain damage, loss of consciousness, asphyxia, amputation and even one death.

The union based its analysis on figures obtained from the government’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE). They revealed that 477 assaults were reported to the HSE in 2016-17, up from 385 in 2012-13.

GMB said only the most serious categories of injury are reported to the HSE by workers in schools, colleges and universities.

Of the 2016-17 total, 385 workers were so badly injured that they had to take more than seven days off work. A further 92 education workers suffered a “specified” injury. Such injuries include fractures, loss of sight, brain damage, loss of consciousness, asphyxia or amputation.

More than half of the attacks, 57 per cent, were carried out by pupils or students.

National officer Karen Leonard said: “These figures back up what our members tell us. School staff experience violence and abuse on a daily basis.

“Obviously these serious injuries are particularly horrific, but all abuse has consequences and can lead to a climate of stress and fear.

“Our members love their jobs and want to carry on doing their best for the children, but their schools must make sure they have proper policies, guidelines and principles to back staff up when attacks do take place.

“GMB demands a zero-tolerance approach to violence in schools, with proper, reliable support systems in place for those who do experience it.”

The union, which represents many educational support staff, is calling on schools to sign up to a code of conduct that will include having a clear policy, ensuring incidents are recorded consistently and that incidents are treated equally seriously, whoever the victim is.

Unison head of education Jon Richards said: “Sadly the HSE statistics come as no surprise. Our own surveys show an unacceptable level of violence and bad behaviour in schools and, unfortunately, support staff often bear the brunt of this aggression.”

The union has produced a guide for managing difficult behaviour and to help school support staff deal with the daily challenges they face.

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