Former British Coal Worker Secures Settlement After Hearing Loss

Lawyers Now Represented Several Thousand Former British Coal Workers

10.09.2013

By Dave Grimshaw

A former labourer who worked at British Coal and Thyssens in Llanelli has received a four-figure settlement for his hearing loss, after specialist lawyers found he had not been given the proper ear protection for his role.

Jeffrey Lewis, 55, from Tumble, Llanelli in Dyfed, instructed specialist workplace illness lawyers at Irwin Mitchell after suffering from difficulties hearing which he suspected may have been related to his work.

Mr Lewis worked for Thyssens from 1974-1976 and again 1989-1992 as a labourer and for British Coal from 1980-1989 as a Stone Crusher and Fitters Mate as well as latterly a Loco Driver.

Experts at Irwin Mitchell secured him the four-figure settlement for noise induced hearing loss from the former British Coal Corporation and Thyssens and added that if he was given adequate hearing protection, it may have prevented his hearing problems.

Irwin Mitchell has represented several thousands of workers who have suffered hearing loss from British Coal and says many people are only just finding out about how their work in the past few decades has affected their health.

Sarah Tagg, an expert in the workplace illness team at Irwin Mitchell representing Mr Lewis, said: “Unfortunately, because Mr Lewis was not provided with the appropriate hearing protection, he is now likely to need to wear a hearing aid some 16 years earlier than he would usually have had to simply because of working in noisy environments.

“As a result of his hearing problems Mr Lewis has difficulty hearing ordinary social conversations, particularly when there is background noise and he frequently has to ask people to repeat themselves.  He also has difficulty on the phone and has to have the TV volume turned up very high.

“We have represented many people who have worked at both British Coal and Thyssens in the 1960s, 1970s and ‘80s who are now suffering problems because of a lack of appropriate protection from the high levels of noise. Businesses have a responsibility to protect their workers but sadly, many people were simply let down by their employers.”

Mr Lewis was exposed to noise working at Thyssens from jack hammers and compressors for digging up roads which were extremely noisy. While at British Coal he worked at the Cyn Hiedere Crusher House.  He was responsible for making sure a conveyor belt taking coal into the crusher was working correctly but was also exposed to extreme noise from other heavy mining work nearby.

He lives with his wife and son and says that his hearing loss has affected all the family.  His sister lives in America and so he relies on communicating with her by telephone and as he now struggles to hear on the telephone, this relationship is now more difficult to maintain.

Mr Lewis said: “I was never provided with any ear protection when working and it has left me with really bad hearing. I also suffer from Tinnitus which is like a buzzing noise in my ears – especially when going to bed.

“It doesn’t just affect me but also everyone around me as I have to have the TV on loud and conversations are trickier because I just can’t hear people very well anymore. It’s a nightmare really and the problems all add up to make life much more uncomfortable for me and my family.

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

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