OVER 1,400 working days were lost at Shetland Islands Council in the last financial year due to injuries and incidents on the job, according to new figures.
Members of the council’s policy and resources committee were told on Monday that this amounted to three per cent of the local authority’s total absences in 2017/18.
However, there was a 78 per cent reduction in the number of more serious injuries compared to 2016/17 due to a cut in the number of manual handling incidents.
Figures presented by human resources manager Denise Bell revealed that children’s services had 178 injuries reported during the year, with community health and social care having 92.
This was “generally due to the complex and challenging needs of some clients in these areas”, Bell said.
“Staff are provided with ongoing support and control measures are constantly reviewed to ensure that we do all that is reasonably practicable to protect both our staff and service users,” her report added.
Nearly 90 per cent of injury accidents in children’s services were physical assault, with that figure reducing to 58 per cent for community health and social care.
One quarter of the 16 injuries in infrastructure services were due to slips, trips or falls, while 25 per cent also came from manual handling incidents.
Some of the more uncommon reasons for injuries included contact with electricity, being hit by a moving object, being hit by a vehicle and being injured by an animal.
Bell said there had been “really positive signs of significant improvement” in injury figures in 2017/18.
She said the council had a reportable accident incident rate of 0.88 per 1,000 employees, which compared to a Scottish average of 2.46.
Reportable accidents are ones that result in death, serious injury or prevent the injured person from working for more than seven days following the incident, and they must be reported to the Health and Safety Executive.
There were only three reportable accidents in 2017/18, all resulting in ‘over seven day’ injuries. There was one slip/trip/fall, a physical assault and one instance of hitting a fixed/stationary object.
Bell said the big reduction in that rate from 2016/17 was mainly due to a new manual handling policy and a refresh of training.
After questioning from south mainland councillor Allison Duncan, Bell said the assault incidents were “often extremely minor in nature” and that their classification as assaults often made them sound “more significant” than they were.
Duncan also used the opportunity to reiterate his desire to see Shetland’s care homes fitted with sprinklers.
Lerwick North member Stephen Leask also raised a concern about injuries being sustained by lone workers, as there may be no “back-up” available to help them.
Council leader Steven Coutts said while injury figures may be on the decrease, there is “no room for complacency”.