Union forces Carpal Tunnel Syndrome breakthrough

01 December 2009

A ground-breaking judgment in Swansea County Court yesterday paved the way for train drivers across Britain to claim compensation for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) - an industrial injury that leaves the hands permanently disabled.

 

The decision initially affects three ASLEF members - Paul Studholme, Gary Thomas and Barry Rogan – who contracted CTS, but it has wide implications for train drivers across the UK. All three drivers developed the condition – often caused by pressure on a nerve in the wrist resulting from repetitive wrist action - while operating from Arriva Trains Wales, Carmarthen Depot. They drove the 140, 142, 150, 152 and 153 model locomotives throughout South Wales along the Heart of Wales lines.

 

When their condition was diagnosed, Arriva Trains Wales denied liability saying the injuries were not caused by working conditions. ASLEF then instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue compensation claims through the courts, arguing the symptoms were caused by repetitive work, adopting awkward wrist postures and operating brake and power controls in cramped conditions. Members had complained of inadequate seats with little or no adjustment and no arm rests.

 

Paul Studholme, 43, began suffering from CTS in 2004 and it forced him to take over ten months off work. After the judgement he said, ‘It is a great relief that the judge has supported our argument. CTS forced me to go on the sick for a number of months and as a result I became depressed. The fact that three of us in the same depot all developed this condition shows that more should have been done to improve our working conditions.’

 

ASLEF’s general secretary Keith Norman said, ‘This ruling sets a precedent for train drivers across the country who suffer from CTS. These three drivers deserve our praise for sticking with this case and I’m proud of all the union’s local and regional officials for persisting with it.’

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