A GMB member whose exposure to dangerous levels of noise in the workplace many years ago has left him reliant on two hearing aids at the age of 48 has been compensated following help from Thompsons Solicitors.

Neil Dawson from Hull has received £5,750 in damages after suffering occupational deafness.

Unknown to him his hearing became damaged in his first job as a 16-year-old apprentice for Richard Dunston Shipbuilders at the Haven in Hessle, Yorkshire. He trained to be a plater from 1977 to 1981 The yard was noisy but he was never given instruction or advice on the dangers it posed to his hearing.

Advised to make compensation claim

Years later he was advised to pursue compensation after being examined by an occupational health professional who told him his hearing had been permanently damaged. 

He currently has to wear hearing aids in both ears but has been told his hearing will get worse in the future.

He contacted his union, the GMB, which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors. 

Richard Dunston Shipbuilders no longer existed and Thompsons had to track down the firm’s former insurers which admitted liability and settled out of court. 

Mr Dawson said: “I was only 16 when I started working at the shipbuilders and I had no idea that the noise I worked in was damaging my ears. We were never provided with ear defenders and now at only 48 I have to wear two hearing aids.”

Many workers have been negligently exposed to excessive levels of noise

Andy Worth from the GMB said: “Many of our members have been negligently exposed to excessive levels of noise in the workplace by their employers. Sadly even with the knowledge of the long term damage it can cause and the safety equipment available people are being exposed today. We wont let those who ignore health and safety laws or fail to provide the correct safety equipment to get away with it however long ago it happened”.

Carol Wild from Thompsons Solicitors added: “This was a particularly difficult claim as Mr Dawson’s former employers no longer existed and his exposure to excessive noise occurred so many years ago. However, we tracked down his employer’s insurers and they settled out of court. We’d urge anyone who believes their hearing may have suffered as a result of their job, whenever that may have been to contact their trade union for advice.”