Firefighter wins damages for hearing loss21 March 2007
Exposed to excessive noise
A retired firefighter who was exposed to different types of excessive noise during his career with the fire service has been awarded damages for partial hearing loss. Mr Paul Rogerson, 53, of Fareham in Hampshire, was compensated after proving that his hearing loss was caused by excessive noises at work. Mr Rogerson brought his case with the assistance of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and Thompsons Solicitors.
Mr Rogerson, who started his career with the fire service in 1969, realised that he had a problem shortly before his retirement in 2004. "I thought initially that I was losing my hearing because I was getting older, however a routine medical examination suggested that it might have been caused by something else. Further tests revealed that I had suffered damage as a result of different types of cumulative and high decibel noises at work."
During his career, Mr Rogerson, like many firefighters, was exposed to noises such as two tone horns on the fire engine, in-cab radios and pumps. "As well as hearing these noises in the course of duty, we also had them constantly in training drills," explains Mr Rogerson.
Noise at Work Regulations
Although the Noise at Work Regulations came into force in 1989, in Mr Rogerson's case the fire service was slow to act. "It took ages for them to get their act together," said Mr Rogerson. "Even now I wouldn't be confident or sure that firefighters are not being exposed to excessively high levels of noise without adequate warning signs being in place. High decibel noise can often give no initial sign of any damage being caused, however cumulative exposure can result in permanent damage. Employers are responsible to test possible high decibel noises to highlight dangers."
FBU National Officer, Paul Woolstenholmes, said: "We are pleased to note that the partnership with Thompsons has again secured compensation for one of our members who has sustained an injury that ought to have been avoided."
Commenting, Mr Rogerson's personal injury solicitor, Robert Lemon, at Thompsons Solicitors, said: "In certain professions we have to accept that noise is an essential aspect. Loud horns are required to warn motorists and pedestrians of a fire engine's movements. However, all employers need to take responsibility for their staff and measures could and should have been taken to reduce the impact on Mr Rogerson and other firefighters."
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