Can Doing Your Job Sometimes Give You Permanent Damage?


A married technical officer and team leader suffered noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus from years of hard work at British Telecommunications plc (BT).

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Where Did the Troubles Start?

He started at BT in 1975 as an apprentice learning his trade from the bottom up in every department. For a large part of the day during his time of employment as a customer service engineer, he used an oscillator and amplifier. He listened constantly for faults, usually placing the headphones against his left ear.

On many occasions he was left with ringing in his ears as a result of the constant noise he was experiencing every day.

He was later promoted to technical officer in a telephone exchange where he was exposed to more loud noise, including constant clicking and mechanical stepping. He worked around these noises for 8 hours, sometimes even longer. The noise would peak during the morning and afternoons, due to the build-up of calls.

Did His Employers Take Precautions?

The man was adamant that at no point was he warned about the potential damage that could happen to his hearing, and at no point was he told the amplifiers and oscillators posed a risk.

The engineer was only ever given ear protection once a month when he was testing the backup generator at the exchange, exposing him for the rest of the time to possible hearing damage.

It wasn't until many years later using the oscillators and amplifying equipment that the man started to realise a change in his hearing. He started to suffer from tinnitus in his left ear that sounded a lot like a dentist's drill, it began to keep him up at night.

For years the man put his hearing loss down to old age, however his union, the Communication Workers Union (CWU), brought to his attention the chances of hearing loss after exposure to excessive noise.

How Can You Get Compensation?

He was referred to us by his union and we set to work building a case against BT. We found 11 faults in total concerning BT and their lack of consideration or their employees’ health and safety in the workplace including:

  • A failure to provide a safe working environment
  • A failure to provide suitable work equipment
  • A failure to assess the worker for personal protective equipment

We also got the man medically examined to strengthen his case and ensure that his medical condition was fully evidenced by our experts.

When we asked the man about his case he commented, “You do not realise that doing your job can cause permanent damage to your health”.

He was awarded £8,000 for his injuries which he was extremely happy about.

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