Aurizon train driver suing for $750k after seat injury

A CENTRAL Queensland coal train driver is suing railway company Aurizon for more than $750,000 in damages after the seat he was sitting in slid off its runners.

Lawrence James Penrose claims he was in the assistant driver's seat of a coal locomotive when he went to adjust the seat for greater leg room.

The Rockhampton man claims the seat went backwards off its runners, tipping him backwards and forcing him to instinctively throw his body forwards.

He says he felt immediate pain in the neck area.

The locomotive was travelling at an estimated 80kmh at the time of the accident as it headed towards Bluff.

Mr Penrose had handed over the controls of the train to a colleague at Aroona while travelling west from the Callemondah depot.

Mr Penrose claims that Aurizon had failed to install stoppers on the seat to provide a safe workplace and is seeking action for daily pain, stiffness and discomfort in his neck which radiates down his left arm and to his head.

The 51-year-old is seeking financial compensation for general damages including pain, loss of income ($573,210), disadvantages on the open labour market, "special damages" to the sum of $64,655 and $4500 for additional vocational training.

He claims that the injuries have prevented him from working as a train driver as he is limited in his neck movement required to scan the track and surrounds.

He says Aurizon sent him a letter in July advising that it was considering terminating his employment unless it could find an alternative role within its operations.

He claims he is only suited to light and/or sedentary roles and as he has no qualifications in such roles he has limited prospects of securing employment.

He says as a result of his injuries he required help with heavier household tasks such as laundry, vacuuming, mopping and bathroom cleaning.

Aurizon will answer to a duty of care which Mr Penrose's defence argues failed to take reasonable precautions for the plaintiff's safety, not to expose the plaintiff to risk and to provide a safe place to work.

A spokesman for Aurizon said the company intends to defend the claim.

A trial date is not yet set.

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