A recent report has underlined what appears to be a worrying increase in workplace injury claims in Scotland. In 2011-12 the number of claims rose by over 20% against the previous year. When compared to the 3.7% increase seen in England, it is easy to see why questions have been asked.
Though when you look at the increase as a percentage it does seem quite severe, it’s important to understand the overall picture before jumping to conclusions. Overall, there are significantly more workplace injury claims made in England than there are north of the border. For example, in 2010-11 there were 71,006 claims made in England but only 4,995 in Scotland. That means the overall increase in 2011-12 was over 4,000 in England but just over 1,000 in Scotland.
The release of these figures has prompted many commentators to highlight this misrepresentation. Though when expressed as an overall percentage it would appear that Scottish workers are making a large number of compensation claims, the opposite is actually true. Despite Scotland being home to many of the industries which generally have very high accident and claims rates, Scots are still making far fewer claims than anywhere else in the UK.
It is thought that the reason Scottish workers are shying away from claiming for accidents they’ve suffered in the workplace is a fear of losing their jobs and struggling to find work in the future. With the job market as it is, many workers are choosing to keep quiet about their injuries to avoid the risk of damaging their future job prospects.
When you consider how low the overall work accident claims figures are in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK it’s actually quite encouraging that they have risen over the past year. What’s important is that commentators see these figures, not as a sign that the Scottish are embracing the ‘compensation culture’ that Britain is becoming famous for, but as a sign that the Scottish are feeling more confident in asserting their legal right to fair treatment in the workplace.