Unite Legal Services and Thompsons Solicitors have secured £20,000 for a man who suffered hearing loss after being exposed to loud noise while working at an airfield.

The member, who works as a firefighter, was based near an airfield runway between 1997 and 2000. He also worked there for another nine months between 2005 and 2006. During this time, the now 50-year-old would be exposed to loud noises caused by planes and helicopters taking off and landing.

“I know now that my employer failed me.”

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Fire alarms would be activated daily at the airfield while he worked there lasting, on average, an hour each time, which also damaged his hearing. He was told that he couldn’t wear protective equipment while the fire alarms were going off as he needed to be in radio contact with colleagues.

He began to notice difficulties with his hearing and a medical assessment in 2013 found that he was suffering with noise-induced hearing loss. As a result he was taken off operational duties and later made redundant by his employer.

The member is now reliant on hearing aids and has taken alternative employment where he is no longer exposed to loud noises.

He said: “The specialist who saw me said that I’ve suffered trauma to my hearing, similar to that of a shotgun blast. I was exposed to the loud noises, on a daily basis, for years on end. I couldn’t even put my hands over my ears to try and protect myself.”

As a Unite member, he was able to contact Unite Legal Services and Thompsons Solicitors for free legal guidance. He secured £20,000 in compensation.

“I know now that my employer failed me,” he continued. “I should have had protection from the noise, and the intensity of the alarms and vehicles should have been monitored regularly. Being told I needed hearing aids was demoralising. It was as if I had suddenly aged several decades overnight.   

“I’m glad that my compensation claim has proven my employer was at fault, but it won’t make up for the fact that my hearing will be affected for the rest of my life.”

Stuart Davies, Unite Regional Legal Officer in the South West, said: “Health and safety legislation is in place for a reason – to ensure employees are not unnecessarily exposed to harm in the workplace. It wouldn’t have taken much effort for our member’s employer to monitor noise levels and protect him and his colleagues.

“Instead, its failure to do so has not only cost them financially but, more importantly, cost an employee his long-term hearing.”