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December 10, 2009

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Train drivers win damages for hand disability

Three train drivers have won a right to compensation after they

developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) in the course of their work.

The judgement, which was handed down last week at Swansea County Court, could set a precedent for other train drivers across Britain to claim compensation for the industrial injury, which leaves victims with permanently disabled hands.

Paul Studholme, Gary Thomas and Barry Rogan all contracted CTS — often caused by pressure on a nerve in the wrist, resulting from repetitive wrist action — while working at the Carmarthen Depot of Arriva Trains Wales. They drove model locomotives throughout south Wales.

According to their union, ASLEF, Arriva Trains Wales initially denied liability, claiming the injuries were not caused by work. 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. Union members had complained of poor-quality seats, with little or no adjustment and no arm rests.

Paul Studholme, 43, began suffering from CTS in 2004 and took more than ten months off work as a result of his condition. 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, added that the ruling sets a precedent for train drivers across the country, who suffer from CTS.

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