Train driver compensated after developing tinnitus05 April 2012
Hearing damaged by faulty door slamming
The ASLEF member from Merseyside who is employed by Northern Rail Ltd and was driving a train from Manchester Oxford Road station to Liverpool Lime Street at the time of the incident was left with tinnitus in his right ear which meant he was unable to drive trains for almost a year.
The tinnitus was started when the gangway door leading from the driver’s cab to the main part of the train burst open as he approached Trafford Park Station at 60mph.
The member sought to secure the door and lock it at the next station but in fact the door’s lock was faulty and it slammed open again at Irlam Station exposing him to another loud bang.
Tinnitus is a constant ringing in the ear
Afterwards he noticed buzzing in his ear which became so bad he sought advice from a doctor. He was diagnosed with tinnitus which means he hears a constant ringing in his ear. It affects his sleep and means he is unable to concentrate on reading.
As a result of the condition his employer’s policies meant that he was unable to drive trains for a year and was put on light duties for six months.
After receiving specialist treatment for his tinnitus he has been able to return to his job full time.
Following the accident he contacted his trade union, ASLEF, which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.
Door should have been fixed to prevent it from slamming open
Thompsons argued that the door should have been fixed to prevent it from slamming open when the train was at speed.
Northern Rail admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.
The ASLEF member said: “The tinnitus has affected every part of my family and social life. I’m unable to concentrate because of the constant buzzing and that means I can’t read books or newspapers anymore. I have to have the television up loud to hear it over the ringing and at times I find it very difficult to sleep.
“I’m grateful to my union in supporting me in my claim for compensation. During my time off and on light duties I missed out on a lot of overtime which had an impact on my take-home pay.”
Ringing in his ear for the rest of his life
ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: “Our member has been left with a permanent condition because this door hadn’t been correctly checked for faults or properly maintained. Being unable to do your job for almost a full year is in itself both a financial strain and frustrating - but having to live with constant ringing in your ear for the rest of your life is very difficult to endure. He has my deepest sympathy.”
Helen Templeton from Thompsons Solicitors said: ”Tinnitus can have a profound affect on the lifestyle of those diagnosed. As a train driver what aspects of his job he could continue to do safely was paramount. Whilst he now has clearance to continue driving trains the long term medical consequences remain and mean he will have to live with the ringing in his ear for the rest of his life.”
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