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Prison officer loses injury claim after training course accident

Posted in: Workplace Injuries 

A prison officer has been refused compensation after claiming for an injury suffered during a training course. Bernadette Smith, who worked for the private security firm Kalyx, was stationed at Addiewell Prison in West Lothian when the accident happened. She had been involved in a ‘mock riot’ training session when she was hit by a 12ft long plank of wood. She suffered injuries to her wrist, shoulder, back and neck.

The training course was organised by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and took place on the 22 September 2010. Ms Smith was involved in the final exercise of the day, which saw a group of prison guards attempt to regain control of a mock riot situation. During the exercise, a fellow prison officer, who was acting as an inmate, threw a 12ft long plank of wood at Ms Smith, causing her serious injury.

“it is not my view an accident which sounds in law in damages”

Ms Smith took the case to court, where sheriff Douglas Kinloch rejected her bid for compensation. He ruled that the Scottish Prison Service had every right to make the exercise as realistic as possible, and in Ms Smith engaging in the exercise, she accepted the potential risk of a workplace injury. Sheriff Douglas Kinloch closed his statement by saying:

“While the accident seems to have affected her quite badly, and it is impossible not to feel sympathetic towards her for that, it is not in my view an accident which sounds in law in damages.”

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