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Historic Scotland and Visit Scotland both ‘slip up’ on safety record

Staff and visitors at some of Scotland’s top tourism sights have injured themselves almost 250 times since the beginning of last year. Some 126 members of staff at Historic Scotland and VisitScotland, and 120 visitors to their sites, found themselves hurt in accidents, making the locations equally hazardous for the public and workers alike.

According to figures released today through a Freedom of Information request, more than 100 visitors at Historic Scotland sites received injuries ranging from cracked ribs to dislocated elbows and broken shoulders. Almost 20 members of the public at VisitScotland sites recorded injuries, including a child at the Wallace Monument in April of last year who had to have the tip of their finger removed after trapping it in a toilet door.

A spokesperson for VisitScotland said: “The safety of our staff and customers across our network of offices and visitor information centres is of paramount importance. We are striving to improve our performance in this area.”

Some of the more serious incidents at Historic Scotland sites resulted in staff or members of the public claiming for damages. A staff member who fell off scaffolding and tore an ankle ligament is currently having their claim handled by Historic Scotland solicitors, as is another who slipped on ice and broke a wrist. A third visitor has a claim currently being handled, after a trip on a raised kerb left them with a cut above the left eye and a broken shoulder.

A spokeswoman for Historic Scotland said: “The nature of our work and the sites that we manage present unique health and safety challenges. However, we recognise our responsibility to manage health and safety and constantly strive for a better performance record. We will continue to engage with employees, local partners, schools, travel trade industry, and the Health and Safety Executive to continually evolve in this area.”

In total, 22 people at Historic Scotland sites were struck by falling or moving objects, and 18 staff members suffered musculoskeletal injuries while handling furniture and other items. Another 21 people walked into or otherwise struck a fixed object – including three visitors who ran into the same interpretation board – and one staff member was involved in a vehicle accident.

Two staff members at Historic Scotland also suffered burns and blisters as a result of coming into contact with “Giant Hogweed”, an ornamental plant introduced to Britain in the 19th century that can cause scars that last for several years, or even permanent blindness.

There were fewer overall accidental injuries at VisitScotland’s sites, with 17 visitors and 28 staff suffering injuries at their locations. Slips, trips and falls accounted for most of these, with 17 people – 11 staff and six visitors – hurting themselves at VisitScotland sites in this way.

Historic sites and visitor attractions may not be inherently dangerous but clearly old buildings and exposed sites do present unique health and safety risks which can and must be managed.  At a time when Lord Young seems hell-bent on decrying the need for sensible risk management and is bemoaning the existence of ‘petty regulations’, the government would do well to remember that people actually expect to return home safe and sound at the end of a day out spent visiting a tourist attraction…and please, let’s not forget about the workers.

If you have been hurt or injured whilst visiting a tourist attraction in Scotland you can contact us for free legal advice and an expert review of your case on 0800 163 978.