Saturday, November 19, 2011

17% increase in serious injury to housing staff since recession

Inside Housing yesterday highlighted Heath & Safety Executive figures which show that serious injuries have jumped 17% since the recession.  In the last 3 years there was 618 reports while in the 3 years before the recession there were "only" 528.  This includes 46 "major injuries" requiring hospitalisation for more than 24 hours.

Inside Housing rang me early this week for a comment. They reported my response that these figures were "worrying" and I had no doubt that there had been an increase in assaults on staff since the recession.  Many of our residents have lost their jobs and a far higher number have seen pay cuts and reductions in hours or overtime.  This has resulted in rent arrears which has put pressure on staff to reduce which inevitably puts housing workers at risk. I also think redundancies and other staff reductions in Supporting People contracts have increased risk.  While the overall increase in the insecurity many feel about their jobs has meant that people are rushing to complete tasks, taking risks and not always thinking about their safety - which may explain the increase in other injuries. 

I am in any case convinced that apart from the reporting of the most serious injuries, that there is a massive under reporting of all forms of accidents and injuries in our sector.  Some (not all) Housing organisation have a "blame" culture if a member of staff is assaulted.  Incredibly they blame the injured member of staff for "not being professional enough".  So workers don't bother reporting incidents, especially verbal abuse or threats.  While other workers think that reporting an accident is a waste of time since they think "nothing will be done" - so why bother?

I also had a moan to Inside Housing about the increase in stress at work due to the recession and the huge problem of "long hours" especially amongst managers.  Not only does this make them ill but you get "knackered managers syndrome".  Managers who are so tired that they have poor judgement and make bad decisions.  Which makes things worse for everyone.  Hopefully Inside Housing will return to this problem.
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