In 2010 British Telecommunications (BT) admitted that some Engineers may have been exposed to excessive levels of noise during their employment, through using oscillator and amplifier tone sets commonly when maintaining and installing telephone lines. The tone sets were generally used in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. BT accepts that now in retrospect this equipment was dangerous and that in some instances the noise that was amplified into the ear piece was at such a volume and pitch that it exceeded the relevant health and safety regulations.
The effect of BT’s negligence is, unfortunately, one which is widespread with many Engineers coming forward to report hearing loss and associated tinnitus. Noise damage is permanent; it affects the high frequency range of hearing and manifests in the inner ear, damaging the minute hairs contained within the cochlear which are responsible for transferring sound to the nerve endings. Some Engineers now in addition also suffer with tinnitus, a condition which generally manifests as a constant or intermittent tone in one or both ears. Tinnitus varies in severity but can at times be life affecting; unfortunately there is no cure. This is a sad but not uncommon example of a large and well respected organisation providing second-rate work equipment. Engineers rightfully assumed that the tone sets were safe to use and carried out their work in a trusting fashion; meaning that they were innocently exposed to excessive noise. The result for the Engineers is one for which they have had to pay dearly for.
Whilst payments are currently being made by BT’s insurers which cover the cost or a contribution to the cost of private aiding it is of little recompense for those Engineers who now have to live with the permanent effects. Where it can be established that any hearing loss / tinnitus is attributable to the negligent exposure in respect of the tone sets, there is a 3 year time limit which runs from the date of knowledge that any hearing loss/ tinnitus may have been caused by work.
BT have recently announced that the amnesty in relation to the limitation period will be withdrawn as from January 2013 therefore it is vital that any potential claim be investigated and made without delay otherwise it may be argued that any claim is out of time. If you feel you may have a claim you should contact Slater and Gordon Lawyers free on 0800 916 9046.
You will need to have a simple hearing test along with quick chat about basic work and noise exposure history. This is usually enough information at the outset for us to determine whether there is a potential claim for Noise Induced Hearing Loss Compensation.