Sunday 20 August 2017

Civil servants' claims expose deadly danger of papercuts

Nick Webb

Nick Webb

Even with gold-plated pensions and complete job security, it's dangerous to be a civil servant these days. . . more hazardous than being a garda, working as a nurse or even as a prison officer.

Number crunchers at the State Claims Agency (part of the National Treasury Management Agency) have calculated that 6 per cent of all claims against the State for employer liability, public liability and property damage come from our 36,000 civil servants. Gardai made 5 per cent of the claims, with prison officers accounting for 4 per cent in 2010. Civil servants were only marginally less likely to claim against the State than prisoners.

Pushing envelopes around all day is far more dangerous than many people had considered. Papercuts of unprecedented agony are thought to have brought entire government departments to a standstill on occasion.

However, more claims against the State came from members of the public, which accounted for 45 per cent. But there are 4.8 million people in the country, as opposed to just 360,000 civil servants.

More than one in five of the claims related to people getting zapped by noxious substances or "exposure to substances/environment". Around 11 per cent of litigation related to falls, with one per cent nicking themselves on something sharp. . . like slicing a finger on a bit of paper.

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