Unite member with hearing loss secures £20,000 compensation

A firefighter who has developed hearing loss after being exposed to loud noises at work has secured £20,000 compensation with the help of Unite Legal Services. 

The member worked at an airfield between 1997 and 2000, and later, between 2005 and 2006. During this time, he would work near planes and helicopters which were taking off and landing, and hour-long fire alarm tests would take place every day. 

He was told that, while the alarms were activated, he couldn’t wear equipment to protect his hearing as it would mean he couldn’t make or receive radio calls to colleagues. 

The member began suffering from hearing problems and was later diagnosed with noise-induced hearing loss. He couldn’t continue his job and was made redundant. He now wears hearing aids daily and works in a role where he isn’t exposed to loud noises. 

Stuart Davies, Unite regional legal officer in the South West, said: “Health and safety legislation is in place for a reason – to ensure employees are not unnecessarily exposed to harm in the workplace. It wouldn’t have taken much effort for our member’s employer to monitor noise levels and protect him and his colleagues. 

“Instead, its failure to do so has not only cost them financially but, more importantly, cost an employee his long-term hearing.” 

The firefighter contacted Unite Legal Services for support. It was able to help the member secure £20,000 in compensation. 

He said: “The specialist who saw me said that I’ve suffered trauma to my hearing, similar to that of a shotgun blast. I was exposed to the loud noises, on a daily basis, for years on end. I couldn’t even put my hands over my ears to try and protect myself. 

“I know now that my employer failed me. I should have had protection from the noise, and the intensity of the alarms and vehicles should have been monitored regularly. Being told I needed hearing aids was demoralising. It was as if I had suddenly aged several decades overnight.   

“I’m glad that my compensation claim has proven my employer was at fault, but it won’t make up for the fact that my hearing will be affected for the rest of my life.”