An HGV driver employed by Salvesen Logistics in Northampton who had to give up his driving licence and lost his job after suffering a serious eye injury in a workplace accident has received compensation after help from Unite Legal Services.

Karl Forkin, 43, from Meir in Stoke on Trent needed an operation on his left eye following an accident at Salvesen Logistics in Stoke on Trent in October 2007 due to double vision. He lost his HGV licence before the operation, regained it when his condition cleared up and then had it revoked again when his vision deteriorated once more.

The Unite the Union member was securing a trailer in Salvesen Logistic’s yard when one of the trailer’s upright roof supports sprang out of the locked position and hit him in the face with two tonnes of force.

Investigations later found that the locking mechanism was not connecting properly.

Mr Forkin suffered damage to the orbital tissues around his left eye leaving him with double vision.

An operation on his eye in September 2008 cleared up his condition which meant having lost his job at Salveson he was able to regain his HGV licence and start work for another firm but his vision began to deteriorate and again he lost his licence and his new job.

He is now retraining as a motorcycle mechanic and is awaiting further consultations to find out if there has been any improvement in his sight.

Thompsons Solicitors investigated a claim for compensation

After the accident the HGV driver of 20 years contacted Unite for advice. Unite Legal Services instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.

Thompsons and Unite argued that regular maintenance checks by Salvesen Logistics on its trailers would have picked up the faulty locking mechanism on the roof support.

Salvesen admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

Mr Forkin said: “The only work I’ve ever known is driving HGVs. With my licence revoked I can’t work and I’m now retraining in a different profession which means I’m not earning. I’m waiting to see a specialist about my eye and I’m hopeful that things have improved but I know that any improvement wont last long enough or be good enough to allow me to return to my profession indefinitely.

“It is frustrating to know that my injury could have been avoided had my employers fixed the fault on the trailer particularly. I have lost my sight and a job I loved.”

Chris Dilley from Unite the Union added: “Our member has been left out of work and with a disability which impacts on his every day life all because his employer failed to carry out basic health and safety checks on its equipment. Employers must have a system in place to ensure its equipment is working correctly and where it is not, to fix any faults, in an effort to avoid this type of accident from happening.

“This is a success for Unite Legal Services and all our members should take some comfort from knowing that our legal services are at hand to act for members and their families.”

Richard Cartwright from Thompsons Solicitors in Stoke said: “Mr Forkin’s vision has been so badly damaged that he has had to give up his career and the damages reflect the impact not only on his personal life but also on the wages he has lost as a result of being unable to work in his chosen profession.”