A number of drivers from Cumbria and Tyne and Wear employed by Transco Plc (and formerly British Gas) have secured compensation for back injuries suffered due to the use of laptops fitted into their vans. With legal support provided by Thompsons Solicitors via their union membership of GMB, the drivers pursued claims against the company who refused to admit they were responsible. The claims were successful and damages have now been recovered.

The laptops were fitted to assist these service engineers with locating gas mains and logging call outs. However, they were fixed to the bottom of the passenger seat by means of a short wire security leash meaning that they could only be used if they were resting on the passenger seat. The drivers were using the computers frequently and had to twist and turn to do so. They started to suffer back pain and made their employers aware of the problems but no action was taken. A number of drivers pursued claims against the company who refused to admit they were responsible.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

One of the drivers was Charles Turner from Newcastle Upon Tyne. Mr Turner worked mainly in the Blaydon and Leadgate depots. His job involved dealing with a whole range of gas enquiries and emergencies. He complained of developing back pain as a result of using a laptop computer in his employer's vehicle.

Mr Turner explains: "To work in the van, I had to twist my body some 90 degrees to the left to face the laptop which was chained to my passenger seat. The laptop couldn't be lifted up and placed on my lap. The back pain I've suffered is as a result of this regular over reaching, stretching and twisting. I'm thankful to my union GMB for the legal support they've provided through Thompsons; without their help I wouldn't have won this compensation."

Michael Bray, for Thompsons Solicitors comments: "We obtained supportive medical evidence from a Neurosurgeon confirming that the job had caused acceleration and/or aggravation of an underlying back problem.  Such cases of injury at work are very common, but many cases never come to light because employees don't know who to turn to.  Hopefully this case will encourage others to turn to their union legal services team for support."