Those of us who have heard of the phrase “whole body vibration syndrome” will be pleased to know that we have recently recovered compensation in such a case. The client was a member of RMT. He worked in the rail industry since 1970, most of the time spent working on tamping machines. These delivered high levels of vibration. The seat was not sprung, which meant that the vibrations caused by the machine were delivered directly to the operator. Newer seats were eventually introduced in the last 10 years or so. Medical knowledge and research about whole body vibration syndrome is still at an early stage and proving causation was always going to be difficult.

We obtained medical evidence that the vibration had worsened a pre-existing back condition. The employers denied liability but eventually settled, the damages being paid both by Jarvis the defendants in respect of their post privatisation period of employment, and on behalf of British Rail to cover the earlier years.

The settlement was for £3,000 on a compromise basis.
Keltie -v- Jarvis Rail.

Post coal scheme case succeeds at trial

This was a miners VWF case where liability was denied under the terms of the compensation scheme. We litigated the case, saying that the claimant was exposed to tortious levels of vibration as what is known as a grade c worker. He did not use tools on a daily basis but on an as-and-when basis, averaging about four hours per month over a 10-year period. The defendant’s case was that the claimant’s earnings details did not show sufficient upgrades to reflect use of vibratory tools. However, at the end of the first day, the defendants conceded and judgement was given for the claimant.

At a time when there is a lot of misinformation about the coal scheme, this is a great victory. So far as we are aware, this is the first post scheme case, where liability has been denied under the scheme, that has proceeded to trial. We have a similar case awaiting judgement.

Downs -v- Department of Trade & Industry. Newcastle County Court, 24 April 2007.