train driver who was forced to retire from his job after severely injuring his back at work has been awarded compensation by his former employer. With the support of his union, ASLEF, and Thompsons Solicitors in Cardiff, Mr Martin Syms, 51, who lives in Porth, Rhondda Cynon Taff, received nearly £80,000 from Arriva Trains Wales Limited.

At the time of the accident Mr Syms, who was chatting with colleagues during a break, was sitting in a plastic moulded chair in the mess room on platform 7 at Cardiff Central Station. As he moved backwards in the chair, it collapsed underneath causing him to land heavily on his back.

Commenting on the incident, Mr Syms said: “Initially it was a shock and then I began feeling discomfort and pain very soon afterwards. I thought that by resting my back for a few days it would be ok, but the pain just got worse. I could hardly move, I couldn’t drive my car and the pain made me feel sick. Although I took painkillers, they didn’t seem to offer much comfort and when I returned to work it was very difficult. The pain was intense and I began feeling numbness in my right leg.”

Forced to Retire due to Injury

Following a visit to his doctor, Mr Syms subsequently underwent a series of hospital visits and investigations to determine the exact nature of the pain and discomfort. Despite physiotherapy and injections, the pain intensified. He was eventually forced to retire from his job as a train driver with Arriva Trains.

ASLEF District Secretary, Stan Moran, said: “Health and safety issues are not just about what happens on the track or within trains. If chairs in the mess room are defective, they have the potential to injure people as has happened in this case.”

Representing Mr Syms, Eamonn McDonough of Thompsons Solicitors in Cardiff, said: “As well as the pain and suffering endured by my client, he’s been left unemployed by this accident which was easily preventable. Because he is not skilled in other areas it is now very difficult for him to find alternative employment.”

This story was also published by the BBC.