BT has announced that – in accordance with the Statute of Limitations – the company will be applying limits to BT employees´ claims for hearing injury compensation with effect from 1st January 2013.
The announcement reverses the policy made subsequent to the Watkins v British Telecommunications court case in August 2010, in which the company admitted that it had exposed former engineers to excessive levels of noise likely to cause injury by supplying them with unsafe oscillating and amplifying equipment to trace, install and repair BT telephone lines.
At the time of the court case, BT said that it would allow all future BT employees´ claims for hearing injury compensation without time limitation where the engineer had been provided with green and unmodified yellow testing sets. This original policy decision paved the way for many former employees who had suffered a loss of hearing to recover compensation from injuries suffered as far back as the 1960s.
Currently, BT employees and former employees who have been diagnosed with a hearing injury attributable to the company´s negligence are able to settle their BT employees´ claims for hearing injury compensation out of court irrespective of when their injury was diagnosed – with most claims being resolved for between 5,000 pounds and 20,000 pounds.
However, from January 2013, BT intends to apply a three-year time limit on BT employees´ claims for hearing injury compensation from the date on which a BT employee or former BT employee is diagnosed with hearing loss problem; after which time, should a period of more than three years elapse between the diagnosis of an injury and the receipt of a hearing injury claim, the company will challenge their liability for the injury.
Although the announcement will make little difference to current and former BT employees who recently have been diagnosed with a hearing injury due to using the green and unmodified yellow testing sets, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has advised any BT employee or former employee who is suffering from a hearing injury to seek legal advice at the first possible opportunity.
Please note: Not all BT employees´ claims for hearing injury compensation are settled out of court. In January 2012, a BT employee´s hearing injury claim was heard in Cardiff County Court (Dew v British Telecommunications) after BT disputed the former employee´s claim which included the cost of a privately supplied hearing aid. The judge upheld the claim and the former BT employee received a total of 19,372 pounds in settlement of his BT employee´s claim for hearing injury compensation.