Bottle Plant Noise Causing Hearing Loss: Solicitor sets out how a worker can claim compensation from a past employer who is no longer in business
Bottle plant noise claims: find out how to prove fault for excessive noise exposure at work; how a hearing test can distinguish damage from noise; claiming after an employer has ceased trading and your exposure to noise occurred many years ago with free online specialist solicitor help.
Bottle Plant Noise Hearing Loss Question
I worked for 20 years in a bottle plant warehouse. The bottle plant noise was enormous from colliding bottles, forklift truck operation, crashing of metal cages and clanging of metal bars.
As a result, at the end of each day I had a buzzing sound in my ears which would settle over the weekend. No real hearing protection was provided except on occasion foam ear plugs were handed out in the morning, but these did not block out the worst of the sound. Only the senior managers were provided with large hearing defenders.
I stopped working in the bottle plan warehouse 10 years ago and since then I have had a quite office job.
Over the last year my wife has been complaining that the TV has been turned up too loud, I struggle to hear what friends are saying in group situations. I have also noticed a slight ringing sound in my ears especially at night when I’m trying to get to sleep.
A month ago, for the first time, I went to see my GP concerning my hearing difficulties and was sent for hearing test at the hospital. After the test I saw a consultant who showed me an audiogram of my hearing results, which I didn’t understand.
He explained that the ringing sound was tinnitus and that my hearing levels were greatly reduced for a man of my age. He asked me about exposure to noise as the audiogram was suggesting significant hearing loss from noise.
I explained about the bottle plant noise and he seemed to believe that was the likely cause of the noise induced hearing loss.
I believed that I would benefit from two hearing aids.
I believe my bottle plant employers are no longer in business.
Would I be able to make a claim for my hearing loss given that my former employer is no longer in business and I had finished work 10 years ago?
Noise Induced Hearing Loss Solicitor Response
Showing Your Employer Is At Fault
From your description it seems that the bottle plant noise was excessive (bottle plants are well known to be noisy work environments). You were not provided regular hearing protection and the protection provided seems to be inadequate especially given that senior management were provided with what seems more appropriate hearing protection in the form of ear defenders.
Your employer should have warned you of the risks of noise, put signs up were hearing protection must be worn, provided suitable hearing protection and ensured employees were using the hearing protection correctly.
Your employer should have conducted noise surveys as to noise levels in your workplace, which should show the levels above the safe levels. If not – experts instructed by your solicitor would be able to provide requisite data as to noise levels from the types of machine and operation to prove the bottle plant noise as excessive.
Proving Noise Induced Hearing Loss From Excessive Bottle Plant Noise
The initial symptoms that you have described of the tinnitus and your difficulties in hearing in certain situations are very typical of noise induced hearing loss. You also describe a phase shift (buzzing sound) after your working day which cleared over the weekend, which is typically indicative of excessive noise exposure.
You have properly had your hearing tested and the results plotted in a graph, which you have correctly referred to as an audiogram.
The consultant who examined your audiogram was likely to have been an ENT consultant. The audiogram has a very distinct shape if there is hearing loss from noise and the consultant clearly picked up on this fact and therefore asked you about your work history, which is common practice when irregularities are spotted.
When making a claim your solicitor would arrange for you to see an independent medical expert – who would have access to all of your medical notes, examine you and conduct a further hearing test (producing a further audiogram).
This expert would then produce a medico-legal report The audiogram would again need to show hearing loss from noise and if so form the basis of your evidence as to the extent of your hearing damage from noise. The tinnitus symptoms would also be assessed.
Ability To Claim Despite Time Elapse & Employer No Longer In Business
The fact that your employer is no longer in business will not prevent a potential claim, as your employer’s former liability insurance could be traced by your solicitor and would still have liability for your potential claim.
Medically you would have suffered the hearing damage when you were in the bottle plant noisy work environment, but as you were younger at the time your hearing was stronger and you will not have noticed symptoms of hearing damage.
As you have aged – your hearing too will deteriorate. Only once your overall hearing loss (from the bottle plant noise damage and hearing loss from age combined) has reached a low enough level – it is at this stage that you would typically start to exhibit noticeable symptoms as you have described (such as the TV being turned up too loud and struggling to hear what people say where there is background noise or in group situations).
It is therefore very likely that your knowledge (the test is the reasonable man’s knowledge not your actual knowledge) of injury could be proven to be later than your exposure.
Your former employer’s insurer might attempt to argue that knowledge would have occurred as soon as your symptoms commenced, but your solicitor would argue most workers do not realise the cause until they seek medical attention and are diagnosed. The latest date of knowledge that could be argued by your solicitor would therefore be the date of diagnosis of hearing loss.
As you only recently sought medical assistance received a diagnosis – it is quite possible that you are still in time to make a claim.
Please Note: care must however be taken as a defendant would typically have sight of your full medical history (as would the medical expert preparing a report for your claim) to ensure that you had not been to the doctors at an earlier time exhibiting hearing problems or had any earlier hearing tests (which could start the limitation clock running).
Starting A Hearing Loss Claim
Should you wish to commence a noise induced hearing loss claim, speak to a specialist industrial deafness solicitor or ask an online question please see our noise induced hearing loss solicitors free help options.