Employers Negligence Causes Hearing Loss – Compensation Recovered

Mr K instructed us when his claim was rejected by a firm in Newcastle.  The Client came from Bury in Lancashire having worked for a firm our client from about 1972 until in or about 1998.  The company was based at Heapbridge, Bury and manufactured printed food wrappings.  Our client was employed as a “slitter” which involved operating a conversion machine.  Raw products were placed in the back of the machine and it was our client’s role to slit the pieces into the correct size, at which point the machine would pull the product through on a roller to produce the final product at the other end.  There were approximately 27 of these machines within our client’s department and each one had an operator.  Our client describes the machines as extremely noisy and it was not possible to hold a conversation with a colleague.  It was normal to use sign language to communicate. 

Our client worked shifts which consisted of 7.00 am until 2.00 pm one week, 2.00 pm until 10.00 pm the other and 10.00 pm until 7.00 am the following week.  Hearing protection was not supplied nor did our client ever request it.  There were no signs located around the factory stating that hearing protection must be worn and he never received any Health & Safety training regarding hearing protection. 

It was always an extremely noisy working environment and that he was not given any warning about the danger of exposure to excessive noise and that when he did complain his protests were ignored. 

A medical report was obtained from an Ear, Nose & Throat Consultant expert based in Wales.  He confirmed that the client had suffered from Noise Induced Hearing Loss and mild Tinnitus

The reason we alleged fault was  that our Client’s condition was occasioned by the Defendants negligence and/or breach of Statutory Duty.  In particular they: -

(a)    Caused or committed our Client to be exposed when you knew, or ought to have known that the same constituted a risk of damage to our Clients hearing;

(b)   Failed to provide any adequate hearing protection for our Client in the course of our Client’s employment, which was sufficient to prevent damage to our Client’s hearing;

(c)    Failed to take any adequate steps to reduce the level of noise to which our Client was exposed or alternatively to reduce the duration of such exposure by modifying the plant, machinery, methods of work, alternatively providing a sound-proofed rest room or refuge for our Clients use or otherwise;

(d)   Failed to provide any adequate or timely warning or advice to our Client of the risk to our Client’s as aforesaid, or alternatively failed to provide a system of education and/or instruction on the use of hearing protection and the need to use the same;

(e)   Failed to examine and/or test the level of noise to which our Client was subjected, and/or failed to provide and/or ensure any adequate system for doing so;

(f)     Failed to provide a safe system and/or place of work for our Client

(g)    In the premises failed to pay any adequate or sufficient regard to information and/or warning regarding medical and industrial pamphlets or publications of which you were, ought to have been aware, in particular, the information warnings and/advice

(i) The report of the Wilson Committee 1963 (Chapter 13 Occupational Exposure to High Levels of Noise).

(ii)  The Ministry of Labour Pamphlets “Noise and the Workplace” 1963

(iii) The Code of Practice/Exposure of Employed Persons to Noise published by the Department of Employment in 1972.

We successfully recovered £5,000 for our client including 2 sets of hearing aids which he later purchased from Specsavers.

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