Justice For Former Oil Refinery And Power Station Shot Blaster Who Suffered With Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Expert Lawyers Call For Improved Hearing Protection For Employees As Tinnitus Awareness Week Begins

03.02.2014

A former shotblaster, who suffered hearing loss and tinnitus after years of being exposed to loud noise on power stations and oil refineries, has spoken out about his ordeal to highlight the importance of workers being given adequate protection to keep others safer in future.

Joseph McGuire of Crosby Road in Grimsby, has been left with partial hearing in both ears after being exposed to excessive levels of noise whilst working for J.D.Tighe & Co Ltd, Jack Tighe (offshore) Ltd and Hat Group between 1976 and 2002 as a shot blaster. The company was called J.D.Tighe & Co when Joseph’s career started but they went through numerous takeovers during his time there.

Following hearing tests the 65-year-old instructed expert workplace illness lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate as he believed he was never provided with the appropriate hearing protection from the loud noise he became exposed to during his working life.

Although the companies never admitted liability for his deafness, Irwin Mitchell secured a £5,000 out of court settlement from various insurers for Joseph which he will use to pay for adequate hearing aids.

During his employment, Joseph was a shot blaster at a range of locations in power stations, gas plants and oil refineries. Shot blasting would consist of using a compressor to prepare steel and other metals, generally removing rust and imperfections.

Joseph was allegedly exposed to loud compressors for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week for over 25 years and says he was not offered adequate hearing protection, which has subsequently left him requiring hearing aids and he now suffers from tinnitus in both ears.

Sarah Tagg, a lawyer who specialises in industrial deafness at Irwin Mitchell and represented him, said: “Joseph worked in an extremely noisy environment where he was exposed to a significant level of noise for long periods of time.

“He says he was never warned or advised about the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss or provided with the appropriate protective equipment during his time with Jack Tighe Ltd, J D Tighe & Co or the Hat Group.

“With National Tinnitus Awareness Week launching, Joseph’s case poignantly highlights the importance of workplace health and safety policies and employers have a duty of care to their staff which includes informing them of all potential hazards and providing them with the full protective equipment they require.

“The damage caused by the noise from the shot blasting is permanent and means that Joseph is likely to have to wear a hearing aid many years earlier than would usually be expected, however we hope the settlement will now give him the funds to improve his quality of life.”

Joseph, who lives with his wife, commented: “The noise that myself and my colleagues had to work in was incredible. I remember having to shout at my work friends just to get their attention even though we were only a few feet away. It was either shouting or the use of hand signals.

“I don’t recall in all my time working for this company that they provided me with any sort of protection or indeed warn me of any potential dangers.

“It is now very distressing and quite embarrassing at times because I misunderstand people during conversation. My tinnitus can stop me sleeping sometimes as it comes in the form of buzzing and crackling which I notice several times a day. The television and radio have to be on the loudest settings at all times and it drives my wife absolutely mad.

“I just hope this highlights the importance of being warned about dangers in the work place and results in others being provided with the appropriate protection in future.”

Law firm Irwin Mitchell will be supporting National Tinnitus Awareness Week, which runs 3rd-9th February 2014 and aims to bring the condition of noises heard in the head and/or ears to the attention of thousands across the UK.

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.