Have you been damaged at work? You may be able to bring a personal injury claim. In May, the Court of Appeal reached an important decision in an industrial noise test case.

A lady worked for 20 years in a hosiery factory packing stockings and developed hearing problems. The noise was at lower levels than is usually accepted for liability. However the court found that the employers were liable under section 29 of the Factory Act 1961 for damage to hearing. The companies ought to have measured the noise at their factories.

The judge said: “I am quite satisfied that an area where the ambient noise was 85 decibels would have seemed noisy to anyone entering it… The respondents to this appeal would also have discovered that they had some workshops where the noise levels were less than 90 decibels but were in the range between 85 and 89. The department where Mrs. Baker worked was one such.”

The court found that employers were under a statutory duty to do what was “reasonably practical” to eliminate the risk of harm. Ignorance of the law was no defence. Ear protectors could easily and cheaply have been provided. In addition, companies were liable at common law for negligence for hearing loss from January 1988. The lady won damages of £3,334. Proving causation, however, still remains an issue. If hearing loss is not related to work then of course no claim can be brought. If you believe you have a personal injury claim call Christine Sands on 01977 518778 for further advice.


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