Care worker compensated after repeated assaults in the workplace22 April 2013
Injured at Work
A care worker who was attacked five times by a teenager who should have been placed in a secure unit has received compensation after her injuries left her being unable to work.
The woman was first attacked by the youth at a residential children's home in West Bromwich in August 2008.
The teenager, who had a history of violence and sexually inappropriate behaviour, hit her so hard with a chair that she has a permanent dent in her left leg and continuing tenderness.
Despite the attack Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council didn't put measures in place to avoid another incident. Over the course of the next five months the UNISON member was attacked on another four occasions.
The teenager threatened to cut her throat with a jagged piece of Perspex glass leaving the member traumatised and worried about her safety at work. He also punched her twice in the arm causing injuries which needed physiotherapy. The injuries to her arm brought on degenerative changes to the care worker's right shoulder which resulted in her being unable to restrain service users, lift or use a computer for long periods of time.
Her injuries became progressively worse and she is now unable to return to work as a carer and fears her injured shoulder means she will not find another job.
The youngster was not moved to a secure unit until April 2009, three months after the final assault. By this time the member was off work.
The carer of nine years contacted her trade union
The carer of nine years contacted her trade union UNISON for advice. The union’s legal firm, Thompsons argued that the youth should have been placed in a secure unit as soon as his violent behaviour was identified and as a result should never have been housed in the children’s home.
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.
The UNISON member said: "After I reported the first incident I thought my bosses would have this youth transferred to a secure unit which would be able to provide the correct type of care for him in a safe environment. But nothing changed and he kept on attacking me.
"It was extremely frightening going into work not knowing what he would do next and wondering how far he would take things."
Ravi Subramanian, from UNISON added: "This young person had been identified as "high risk" before being placed at the care home yet nothing was done to prevent these assaults from happening.
"It is shocking that our member was attacked five times and was left badly traumatised and injured before the youth was moved to a more appropriate secure unit. By this point it was too late for our member whose career had already been destroyed. She has been badly let down by her employer.”
John Mullen from Thompsons Solicitors said: "Too often those working in caring and health environments are put in situations which make them vulnerable to assault.
"Employers have a duty of care to their staff and must take all reasonable steps to protect them from assaults at work. It is astonishing that this council allowed a series of attacks to take place before taking any action.”
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