Pensioner Achieves Justice After Suffering Hearing Loss In Former Factory Job

Workplace Injury Lawyers Call For Improved Hearing Protection For Employees After Securing Settlement

28.11.2013

A former print machine operator who suffered hearing loss after 20 years of being exposed to loud noise in the workplace has spoken of his ordeal to raise awareness of the importance of workers being given the correct protection.

Roy Walton, 69, of Bingley, West Yorkshire, has been left with partial hearing in both ears after being exposed to excessive levels of noise whilst working at W. E Berry Ltd, printers based at Shipley, between 1975 and 2004.

Roy, who lives with wife Pat at their family home, instructed personal injury experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell in a battle for justice and is speaking out after the firm secured him a four-figure settlement from his former employers to compensate for his loss of hearing.

During his employment Roy operated binding and printing machinery, and was surrounded by large printing machines up to 30ft in height without being provided with ear protectors. He first noticed symptoms of hearing loss about six years ago and initially thought he just needed his ears syringing but it has become worse over time.

The gradual loss of hearing has affected Roy’s life at home and social life as he really struggles to listen to people, often losing words and phrases throughout conversation. Roy also experiences a buzzing sensation in his ears and watches TV or listens to the radio on a very loud volume setting.

Sarah Tagg, who specialises in industrial deafness cases at Irwin Mitchell, represented him. She said: “Roy was never warned or advised about the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss or provided with the appropriate protective equipment during the first 20 years of employment at W.E. Berry Ltd.

“Employers have a duty of care to their staff and Roy’s case highlights the importance of workplace health and safety policies, which includes informing them of potential hazards and providing full protective equipment.

“Roy is now likely to wear hearing aids years earlier than expected because of the damage caused operating and being surrounded by noisy machinery without adequate protection.

“Your hearing is an extremely important sense and partial hearing loss can significantly affect a person’s life, ranging from struggling to listen to conversations in everyday life to requiring home adaptations such as specially developed telephones, doorbells and alarm systems. We hope Roy’s settlement will now give him the funds to improve his quality of life.”

Former machine operator Roy spoke about his ordeal: “Not once in the first 20 years was I warned about the dangers and now I am going to require hearing aids. It is such a frustrating feeling losing your hearing and it can be very upsetting that I can’t have a normal conversation with my wife. I have to have the TV and radio turned up to the loudest settings just so I can hear them.

“It wasn’t until the latter years of employment that any sound proofing was actually implemented. For twenty years or more I worked in an extremely noisy environment where some of the printers were up to 30ft tall.

“I just hope this highlights the importance of wearing the appropriate protection in the work place and hope businesses take action to ensure this issue doesn’t happen again.

“Thankfully I now have the settlement which will help me to pay for hearing aids in the future so that the effect on my life can be as little as possible.”

If you or a loved one has suffered from hearing damage such as acoustic shock, tinnitus, and noise-induced hearing loss caused by conditions at work our solicitors could help you claim compensation. See our Industrial Disease Claims page for more information.