British Rail has paid compensation to a former worker who made a claim for loss of hearing, as a result of being in a noisy work environment for 17 years.
Between the years of 1956 and 1973, Aubrey Akers (72) of Swindon, Wiltshire, worked in the Swindon engineering works for British Rail. As a part of his job, he was constantly surrounded by up to three hundred machines. The noise of hammering and riveting was constantly surrounding him as the trains were stripped and rebuilt.
British Rail had been made aware of the dangers of excessive noise in the workplace from 1955, yet they failed to provide Aubrey or his colleagues with any ear protection or warn them about the risk of working in a prolonged noisy environment. Due to his employer’s failure to adequately adhere to safety regulations, Aubrey lost his hearing prematurely.
Aubrey was made aware that a former colleague at British Rail received compensation from his former employer for their failure in duty of care that caused his lack of hearing. Aubrey then sought legal counsel, and made a claim for loss of hearing at work against British Rail. The defendants initially denied liability for his loss of hearing. Just prior to the case being heard in court, they agreed to an out-of-court settlement amounting to £8,500.
Aubrey´s legal representative commented that many people who previously worked in excessively noisy environments develop premature deafness and tinnitus, and wrongly believe that it is attributable to old age. She recommended that anybody who was not provided with hearing protection contact a solicitor to see if they are eligible to make a claim for a loss of hearing at work.