’25-year rotation system’ railway engineer cerebral infarction is “work-related disaster”

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A railroad engineer who developed a cerebral infarction while working in a shift system and working in a job with high mental tension was recognized as an occupational accident by the court. Even if the working hours did not exceed the working hours set by the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the court found that the nature of the shift system and exposure to noise were complex factors aggravating the workload.

Disapproval of medical care benefits for ‘less than standard’
Divergent judgments of emotions based on work type

The Seoul Administrative Court announced on the 3rd that it had ruled in favor of the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service to cancel the disposition of non-payment of medical care benefits by a 53-year-old engineer of the Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL). It has been 1 year and 6 months since Mr. A filed a lawsuit.

Mr. A, who joined the company in 1993, worked 5 days a week, an average of 8 hours a day, in irregular shifts. Due to the nature of the engineer, he boarded the train according to the circular shift system, which departs in the morning, afternoon, and night hours. The engine room, where I normally work, generated noise between 70 and 80 decibels on average.

In addition, the business office to which Mr. A belongs was in charge of the only operation section with a cliff in the country, so the risk was high. In addition, while working as an assistant engineer, Mr. A suffered three fatal accidents, including an accident in which all four occupants of a car collided with a train.

Then, in June 2018, after returning from work after an emergency standby service, he showed signs of paralysis in his limbs, so he visited the hospital and was diagnosed with ‘ischemic stroke, middle cerebral artery region cerebral infarction’. Person A, who suffered from the aftereffects of paraplegia, applied for medical care benefits to the Corporation in February 2020, but was rejected because the working hours did not meet the criteria for chronic overwork. The reason that Mr. A worked 40 hours and 38 minutes a week before the onset of the disease did not meet the standards announced by the Ministry of Labor.

Person A filed a lawsuit in July 2020 saying, “The brain infarction was caused by overwork and stress at work.” At the trial, the opinions of the court appraisers were mixed. The Occupational and Environmental Medicine expert thought that Mr. A’s irregular sleep time due to frequent fluctuations in working hours over the past 25 years was highly likely to have affected the onset of cerebral infarction. On the other hand, the neurosurgeon judged that there was no relationship between work-related overwork and disease, saying that Mr. A was presumed to have had cerebral infarction risk factors such as high blood pressure and smoking.

Recognition of “significant physical and mental burden” as an industrial accident
“Correspondence of a shift system engineer must be widely recognized as an industrial accident”

The court ruled in favor of Mr. A, acknowledging a significant causal relationship between cerebral infarction and work. The court ruled that “not only is it difficult to say that you have adapted to the shift system just because you have worked for a long time, but rather, the longer you work, the more physical and mental burden you accumulate.” In the case of Mr. A, who has worked according to the rotation system for more than 25 years, it is clear from the rules of experience that his work must have placed considerable physical and mental burden.

The court found that the noise was between 70 and 80 decibels, there was no separate place in the engine room to deal with the physiological phenomenon, working in a high-risk operation section, and experiencing human casualties. It is a job that is exposed to two or more factors that increase the workload.

“It is true that Mr. A’s average working hours fell far short of the standard for overwork,” said Choi Jong-yeon, a lawyer representing Mr. A. In the case of railroad engineers performing their duties, even if they do not meet the standards for overwork, we expect that cerebrovascular disease will be recognized as an industrial accident from the initial claim stage.”


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