A council who failed to provide refuse collectors with ear protection has been ordered to pay one of its past workers over £8,000 in compensation, and there could be more claims from his colleagues, according to the lawyers who handled the case.
50 year old Graham Wild worked for 30 years with loud recycling machinery and bin lorries. During this time he was subjected to noise levels of 90dB without being offered any hearing protection or receiving warnings about the dangers of noise. In the late 1980s, noise levels of 85dB were recognised as dangerous and called for hearing protection to be provided.
Mr Wild now has to wear hearing aids on both ears and suffers form moderate tinnitus, which affects his sleep.
Under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (Noise Regulations 2005) employers are required to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work. The regulations were first introduced in 1990, but action can still be brought for incidences of work related hearing loss before this time.
60 former Foden employees to claim for hearing loss
Before it was sold in 1980, South Cheshire truck works firm Foden employed staff who were required to use loud air powered hand tools. No hearing protection was provided. Lawyers are now acting for over 60 former employees who are seeking compensation for hearing loss, and it is expected the payouts will be in the thousands. One of the workers was with the firm for 33 years and he now complains of a constant noise in his ears which is particularly bothersome during the night.
Once hearing has been lost, it is impossible to regain it. Generally hearing loss continues to worsen and tinnitus, denoted by a constant ringing in the ears, can be incredibly debilitating. Awards for this condition range from £4,850 to £30,000.
Employees also have a duty to protect their own hearing. If protection was provided by an employer, but the employee failed to wear it, or did not follow set health and safety procedures, they may be considered negligent themselves.
If you have suffered hearing impairment because your employer failed to provide adequate hearing protection, you may be entitled to compensation. You should take action as soon as you are aware of your hearing being affected as there are strict time limits for bringing claims. Even if the employer in question is no longer trading, it is still usually possible to pursue them for compensation.