Unite secures five-figure compensation for permanently injured airline worker

An airline worker who suffered a career-changing eye injury at work has received a five-figure pay out with the support of Unite Legal Services.

The Unite member was using an extinguisher to tackle a fire on board a flight when some of its chemical contents sprayed in her face and onto her left eye.

She suffered an irritation injury which affected her use of contact lenses. It also aggravated her condition blepharitis, also known as dry eye that she already had before the accident. The aggravation of her condition meant she was unable to continue working on planes, as the pressure in the cabin would cause her severe eye pain.

The member asked her employer if she could be transferred to another role, however, this did not happen and she had to move home to New Zealand, taking a lesser-paid tourism job.

She contacted Unite Legal Services to make a compensation claim.

“I’d spent my entire career working on aeroplanes – it was what I was trained in and a job I loved doing – so to find out that I would never be able to do it again was a real blow.

“My employer couldn’t have cared less about my situation. I tried my hardest to find something else but they weren’t interested, so I had to move back to my parent’s house, which is something I never thought I’d have to do.

“Despite no longer living in the UK, Unite Legal Services was more than happy to fight on my side and, as a result, I’ve been able to try and move on from what has happened.”

Peter Kavanagh, London and Eastern regional secretary from Unite the Union, said: “Our member’s injury did not initially appear that severe, but the chemical irritation she sustained had far-reaching consequences, which ended in the termination of her employment.

“Health and safety procedures are enforced for a reason, but her employer failed to follow these and it was our member who paid the price. While she has found alternative work, she had to take a pay cut and move across the world to do so, which is a harsh price to pay when the injury could have been easily avoided.”