A Gateshead man who suffers from debilitating long term damage to his hearing caused by defective work equipment has received £8,500 in compensation after help from his trade union.

GMB member Charles Haswell from Leam Lane developed tinnitus, a condition which means he hears constant ringing in his left ear, after he was hit in the side of the face by a faulty lorry door handle.

The driver for Asda’s Depot in Washington was attempting to unload a 40ft lorry trailer, owned by McBurney Transport, when the accident happened in September 2009.

The lorry’s door handle was stiff and as Mr Haswell applied pressure to open it, it released without warning hitting him on the left side of his face. It was later found that the handle was faulty.

Mr Haswell, 54, suffered from severe internal bruising and soft tissue injuries to his face. The trauma caused the onset of his tinnitus.

He was forced to take two weeks off work as a result of the accident. His facial injuries have now healed but he has been told that he must now live with his hearing problem for life. Additionally he has been told the condition is likely to worsen over the years.

Thompsons Solicitors pursued a claim for compensation

Following the accident the GMB instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that McBurney Transport should have ensured the lorry was regularly inspected and maintained so any problems were picked up and resolved rather than left to catch people out.

Mr Haswell said: “I never had a problem with my hearing before this accident. Now I hear a constant ringing sound. It’s worse at night and at times can make sleeping difficult. I have been told it will get worse as I get older.”

GMB regional organiser Michael Hopper added: “Tinnitus is not just irritating it can also be extremely distressing and worrying. Our member was just getting on with his job. The lorry’s owner left him with faulty equipment. We will be doing what we can by applying pressure on employers to ensure that all lorries used by their staff are in fit working condition before leaving the yard in the future.”

Lyndsay Milligan from Thompsons Solicitors in Newcastle added: “We see far too many faulty work equipment cases. For the owner of the equipment it is often something they mean to get around to fixing, but for the victim it can be the difference between a healthy future or a future with a disability.”