Council’s £1m bill for slips, trips and accidents

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STAFF at a Yorkshire council have claimed more than £1m from their employer for accidents in the last five years – with one cleaner being paid more than £9,000 after he tripped over a mop.

According to figures which emerged yesterday, the 61-year-old cleaner, employed by Rotherham Council, was paid £9,128 after tripping over the mop handle, falling and pulling a groin muscle.

Four other workers – a teacher, a carer, administrative assistant and a weed sprayer – shared a total of £26,867 after falling off chairs, each being paid between £2,000 and £10,600.

A 53-year-old admin assistant tripped over a dining table leg in 2010 and was handed £14,452, while the same year a labourer was paid £10,450 after he fell into a pond in a council house garden.

A 38-year-old housing assistant won £16,500 in 2008 after falling in a pothole in a car park. and in March 2008 a watersports instructor, 25, got £14,000 after he slipped on a jetty at a country park.

According to the statistics released under the Freedom of Information act, claims by council employees have cost ratepayers in the town an average of £193,558 a year over the last five years.

Robert Oxley, of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, called on Rotherham Council to cut down on the number and cost of avoidable accidents.

He said: “The bill to taxpayers for compensation is unacceptably high. While some staff might have legitimate claims because of negligence, there is a worrying rise in compensation culture.

“Taxpayers should not be footing the bill for cases where a bit of common sense would have avoided an accident.”

Deputy leader of the council Jahangir Akhtar said : “From time to time things do go wrong and our staff may incur a financial loss or suffer a personal injury.

“Each case is taken on merit and, in being fair to our employees, we will always accept responsibility and compensate people in situations where it is proven we are legally liable to do so.

“The council prides itself on its risk assessment and health and safety policies and continues to invest in this area to maintain our good record.”

The largest single payment was £212,211 to the family of road worker Gordon Duffield, 51, who was crushed to death by a lorry in May 2007.