Attacks on Walsall Council staff plummet during pandemic

Thu number of attacks on council staff dropped by more than 80 per cent during Covid lockdowns, new figures show.

Walsall Council House
Walsall Council House

Walsall Council’s annual health and safety report for 2020/21 revealed the physical assaults, threatening behaviour and verbal abuse against employees had dropped considerably compared with previous years.

Members of Walsall Council’s personnel committee were told working from home and the temporary closure of services were the reasons for the reduction.

HR managers said they expect the numbers to swell again next year following the reopening of public-facing services.

The number of aggressive incidents against Walsall Council workers in 2020/21 was 22, compared with 146 the previous year. Of those, 13 happened within children’s services.

There was a similar picture in local authority-run schools with a total of 112 incidents in 2020/21 compared with 331 the previous year.

The number of recorded accidents suffered by staff, members of the public and people in schools – caused by reasons including slips, trips and falls – also fell.

In 2020/21, there were 31 accidents amongst council staff compared with 114 the year before. A total of 71 school staff reported accidents compared with 123 the year before.

For non-employees, accidents suffered in council buildings and facilities in 2020/21 were 33, a drop of 351 from the year before. Non employees involved in accidents at schools were 55 compared with 93 the previous year.

Chris Close, Walsall Council's health and safety manager, said: “Covid 19 had an impact on all our services during that time including much of the work of the health and safety team including our audits, fire and risk assessment and training programmes.

“That give us capacity to deal with Covid, particularly ensuring the schools could open safely.

“Covid had a dramatic impact on accidents and aggressive incident numbers all of which fell.

“Working from home meant staff incidents reduced and given many public facing services were closed or offered remotely, our public accidents fell as well.

“But we do expect some recovery on both of those particularly the public accidents now leisure centres etc open.”

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