Head Injury Month – Industrial Deafness


Cause of Injury

What’s My Claim Worth has some of the best and most experienced lawyers in this field of personal injury. Our team can provide quick and personal advice on any industrial deafness compensation claim you may have.

Industrial deafness is also referred to as occupational deafness, or noise induced hearing loss. It is a deterioration of a person’s hearing over a prolonged period of time as a result of their working environment.  People can also develop tinnitus (a ringing or buzzing in the ears) as a result of excessive noise exposure.

A recent case in 2010 involved a claimant from Rotherham who was diagnosed with deafness and tinnitus in both ears in August 2009. His hearing became damaged while employed as a road worker by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council during the 1960s and 1970s. He was a HGV and JCB driver where he was exposed to prolonged engine noise. He was also exposed to unsafe levels of noise from jack hammers, drills and vibrator rollers. He received £6,000 in damages after suffering from occupational deafness.

How to claim for industrial deafness

If you have worked in a noisy environment and have experienced deterioration in your hearing and/or developed tinnitus, you may be entitled to compensation.

Under the Noise at Work Act 1989 employers must ensure they provide their employees with reasonable protection against excessive noise levels. Very often this has not been done allowing people who are affected to claim compensation

There are strict time limits in place to make any personal injury compensation claim, including occupational deafness, so if you or someone you know has developed occupational deafness or any other industrial injury, contact our industrial deafness solicitors provide quick and personal advice on any industrial deafness claim.

Case Studies

What’s My Claim Worth have recently settled a claim for Mr W who developed noise induced hearing loss with tinnitus (buzzing or ringing in his ears) as a result of being exposed to noise during the course of his 

employment with two employers. Whilst both companies, known as Herbert Cotterill Limited and Sutcliffe & Speakman Limited no longer trade, we succeeded in tracing full insurance history coverage for both companies, ensuring Mr W recovered 100% of the value of his claim.

Industrial deafness is what is known as a “divisible” injury in law. This means that it is possible to apportion blame between various companies who may have exposed a sufferer to loud noise in the past. For example, if a Claimant was exposed to noise with 2 companies who longer trade in exactly the same way and insurance history could only be traced for one company, then the Claimant would receive 50% of the total value of their claim.

Mr W was employed by Herbert Cotterill Limited on a full-time basis as a welder and this company was involved in the welding of heavy machinery. 

Loud noises were created by cranes overhead which ran throughout the course of the working day.  Our client was present within the machine shop and would work in close proximity to the burner press machines but which would also create loud noise levels.   There were other presses known as the mining and folding presses which also added to the overall level of noise throughout the course of the working day.

More often than not, he worked in the welding shop which was also very noisy. He and his colleagues worked on assembly which involved assembling chocks which were like bases and this would involve hammering various items into place to form the chocks. He and his colleagues also had regular cause to hammer roof bars as part of the assembly process. They were used to hold the pit roofs up within mines.  Lids would also be hammered into place onto the roof bars. These processes involved hammering metal onto metal which created a terrible noise and this was going on throughout the course of the working day. Escaping the noise was completely impossible. There would be around 10 people working on assembly in the same department at any one time and all of their banging activities added to the overall noise levels.

In other areas of the department, other workers would be working on the roof bars which had been splattered as a result of the welding processes. Our client would on occasion have cause to go into the areas where this problem was being addressed. This was known to workers as the grinding section. He would be nearby on occasion when 3 workers would be using grinders to eradicate the splattering which added to the overall noise levels.

Essentially, there was a hive of activity within Herbert Cotterill’s at the time and all activities involved the production of high levels of noise. 

If Mr W wanted to have a conversation with a colleague positioned a few metres away from him, he would need to shout at the top of his voice in order to be heard.  He took 3 short breaks throughout the course of the working day.  He took a 15 minute break in the morning and the same length of break in the afternoon.  He also took a half hour break for his lunch.

 He was never provided with any form of hearing protection by this employer, nor was he ever warned of the dangers of being exposed to excessive levels of noise to the best of his knowledge. Mr W confirmed that the noise levels throughout the course of the working day were constant.  He only experienced respite from the noise when he took his three breaks. 

 1987 to 1993 approximately

Our client also worked for a company called Sutcliffe & Speakman Limited based on Guest Street in Leigh.  Mr W was employed on a full-time basis working in the screening of carbon.  The company now has the name, Banner Chemicals Limited and we traced the insurance cover which was in place at the time of his exposure to noise.

This role involved the pressing of coal and carbon to create a mix in order to form briquettes in what was known as the press room.

This process was an extremely noisy one and involved working on machines which made noise including what was known as the Beckett presses.  The coal and carbon came from the mixing room and went into the press room. It would then run through a set of holders into what was known as a siller machine which pressed the material out.  The material then went through another 3 smaller press machines which resulted in the briquettes being formed.

In that section the material would be placed into plugs to form the briquette and this would then roll out onto a conveyor belt, leading down to a section to be bagged up.

Another loud source of noise was the Ballmill machine which broke the coal up at the back of the presses. The process of breaking coal up into small pieces as an extremely noisy one and when working on this machine our client would be near to it for around 4 hours per day. If he wanted to have a conversation with a colleague positioned a few metres away when working on this machine. He would need to shout at the very top of his voice to be heard. The whole banging and manipulating of the coal process created a terrible level of noise.

Other sources of loud noise were the screening machines. Coconut shells would be put through furnaces to be burnt down to create carbon and would then run into large containers to cool down. The containers would then be taken off by large trucks to be put into a large silo to be shaken. The material would be extracted from the silo to run into 5 different screening machines. The material would be broken down by this point and each different machine would be used to create different sizes of carbon products. The machines were vibrating at a loud volume throughout the course of the working day and the noise levels were horrific. Our client would spend around 4 to 5 hours per day right next to the machines. The remainder of his time would be spent going up and down the factory to make sure the machines were running properly and he would still be exposed to the generally noisy working environment when completing such tasks.

When working on the presses and in close proximity to the screening machines, if he wanted to have a conversation with colleagues positioned a few feet away, he would need to shout at the top of his voice in order to be heard. 

During the latter part of his time with the company, our client does believe that workers were eventually provided with ear plugs to wear.  He was never actually shown how to wear the ear plugs when working for the company and most people did not wear them.  They were plastic spongy things and even though he wore them during the latter part of his time with the company, our client does not feel that they kept the noise out at all as the noise levels were so loud. The use of hearing protection was never enforced throughout the course of the time that he worked for the company and he never recalls being formally warned of the dangers of being exposed to excessive levels of noise when working for the company.

We obtained a medical report in support of our client’s claim which showed that due to the many years of exposure to noise he suffered during the course of his working life, he had actually developed noise induced hearing loss.

Using our specialist knowledge in this area, we managed to identify the insurers on risk for the whole of the Claimant’s period of exposure to noise with both Defendant companies in Mr W’s case. He is due to receive £9,000.00 in full and final settlement of his claim for noise induced hearing loss compensation with tinnitus.

 Have you suffered a personal injury caused by an accident? Contact us on Freephone 0800 025 0000. A Solicitor is waiting for you call.

There is Hope…

Extract from website

About the British Tinnitus Association

The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) is a world leader in providing support and advice about tinnitus. We provide accurate, reliable and authoritative information, much of it written by medical professionals or clinical researchers.

Most of it is available on this website and is free to download and use. If we’ve been of help you might consider joining the Association or perhaps supporting us with a donation to help us to help others; our work relies entirely on the generosity of our members and supporters, as we receive no government funding.

Mission Statement

The British Tinnitus Association strives to be the primary source of support and information for people with tinnitus and their carers in the UK and to advocate on their behalf.

We aim to encourage prevention through our educational programme and to seek effective management of tinnitus through a medical research programme.


The British Tinnitus Association (BTA) was formed in 1979, became a fully registered charity in 1992 and has grown steadily since.

From its base in Sheffield, the BTA helps and supports the public, professionals and organisations to achieve better tinnitus awareness.

The BTA currently employs 11 members of staff.

How we help

The BTA works to help individuals with tinnitus and the wider public understand more about tinnitus, coping strategies and raising awareness amongst the general public. It does this via:

  • a confidential Freephone helpline – 0800 018 0527
  • over 30 information leaflets, written by leading medical professionals, that are distributed free of charge
  • Quiet, the BTA’s quarterly magazine
  • this website, containing information and advice for all audiences
  • attending awareness raising events across the UK

The BTA also works with medical professionals to support medical and clinical research and supports professionals to gain the skills and understanding of tinnitus to treat patients. The BTA achieves this through:

  • running Tinnitus Adviser Training courses
  • our Annual Conference, the only purely tinnitus related conference held in the UK
  • providing a bursary scheme for professionals to attend tinnitus related training
  • funding medical research into tinnitus

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