New figures reveal housing officers have never had it so bad
Rise in serious work injuries since recession
The number of housing officers seriously injured at work has jumped by 17 per cent since the start of the economic downturn.
Since 2008/09 housing providers have reported 618 serious work-related injuries to the Health and Safety Executive - in the three years before the start of the downturn and subsequent recession they reported 528.
The updated figures, published last week, reveal that in 2010/11 there were 188 serious injuries to housing and welfare officers. Forty-six of these were classed as major injuries, such as fractures and wounds requiring admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours. Staff in the remaining 142 cases suffered injuries that required them to take more than three days off work.
The latest figures reveal that in seven cases staff were hit by a moving object, 12 were physically assaulted, and five were injured by an animal. Two officers were injured after coming into contact with electricity, two fell from a height of more than two metres, and one was hit by a moving vehicle.
John Gray, UNISON national executive committee member for the community and voluntary sector, said the figures were worrying.
‘I have no doubt that the recession has caused an increase in attacks on staff,’ he said. ‘Part of the increased risk has been down to an increased emphasis on staff chasing arrears as economic circumstances worsened.’ Ongoing cuts in the housing sector mean the situation is ‘going to get worse’, he added.
‘We are expecting more confrontation with tenants over arrears,’ he said.
Mr Gray also believed many incidents of minor violence and threats are also going unreported. ‘Just because you are not off for three days because someone punched you, it doesn’t mean you haven’t had an experience that has really upset and disturbed you,’ he said.