A dockyard worker who was exposed to excessive noise for decades by two different employers and is now suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus has received compensation.

The 60-year-old was diagnosed with hearing loss in both ears and tinnitus in November 2010 after a routine check up at work.

He was exposed to excessive levels of noise in 1983 when he began working for Devonport Royal Dockyard where he commonly used air-driven tools. Provision and enforcing of hearing protection was haphazard until the 1990s.

He first began to suffer from ringing in his ears after being in a noisy environment. Gradually his hearing began to lessen and now he needs hearing aids.

Suffer from deafness and tinnitus

Unite Legal Services instructed Thompsons Solicitors to act on the members behalf.

Thompsons argued that both the MoD and Devonport Royal Dockyard should have done more to enforce the use of protective equipment and to monitor the exposure to noise.

The MoD admitted liability and settled the claim out of court. Devonport Royal Dockyard didn’t admit liability but settled the claim out of court.

The member said: “When you work in a noisy environment you get used to it and have to get on with it but you don’t realise at the time the affect it is having on your ears. It wasn’t until I began to suffer from ringing in my ears outside work that I began to think I might have a problem.

“I’m going to suffer from deafness and tinnitus for the rest of my life. This compensation will allow me to buy specialist hearing aids which will make sure I can continue to work in the future.”

Noise levels are set by law

Rob Miguel from Unite the Union said: “Noise levels are set by law and we expect employers to abide by the guidelines. They must prevent harm by using quieter equipment and better use of engineering controls such as screens, enclosures or absorbent materials.”

He added: “If any risk remains they must provide workers with appropriate ear defenders and plugs, and give them full training on use. They don’t cost much and certainly less than paying out compensation after they have left an employee substantially deaf and with ringing in their ears. This is a success for Unite Legal Services and all our members should take comfort from knowing that our legal services are at hand to act for them and their families.”

Emma Dunn from Unite’s panel solicitors Thompsons Solicitors added: “We deal with many cases of industrial deafness and a lack of warnings about the dangers and a lack of protection is sadly very common even today when ear defenders are cheap and easily available. There really is no excuse for workers to suffer hearing damage as a result of their work.”