An aircraft technician offered $4,500 under the Work Injury Compensation Act opted instead to sue in the High Court, where a $275,000 settlement was reached last week.
Mr Jason Lee, 37, had injured his back six years ago while lifting cabin seats and later sued his employer SIA Engineering Company (SIAEC), which does aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul, for alleged negligence.
The aeronautical engineering technician and a dozen other colleagues had been told to dismantle and remove cabin seats of an aircraft on April 18, 2008. The plane was at Changi Airport outside a hangar, with an aerial platform attached to a truck.
The group was told to finish the job as soon as possible, so the plane could be relocated elsewhere.
According to court papers, when work resumed after lunch, Mr Lee felt a sudden sharp pain in his back while lifting a 30kg two-person seat with a colleague. But as they had to complete the work quickly, he continued, placing the seat on a trolley and pushing it to a plane door so it could be loaded onto the aerial platform. On returning to dismantle and then lift another seat with his colleague, he felt another sharp pain. This time, he stopped and rested. But the acute back pain did not go away and he sought treatment.
He was diagnosed with a spine-related lower-back joint dysfunction that required injections to reduce the pain. The back pain is expected to be permanent and the treatment ongoing. The injury meant Mr Lee had to be re-deployed to office work that does not entail heavy load work.