A former BT employee´s hearing injury claim has been heard at Cardiff County Court after BT disputed whether their former engineer should be entitled to a private hearing aid.
The claimant, identified only as Mr Dew, had been employed by BT from 1981 until 2010 as an engineer and jointer, and alleged in his compensation claim for BT employee´s hearing injury that his need to wear a hearing aid had been brought forward by fifteen years due to being exposed to high-pitched tones while testing, tracing and installing BT telephone lines during his thirty years with the company.
The former BT employee explained to Cardiff County Court that he had been using an NHS issued hearing aid since December 2009 but found that it screeched whenever he placed his hand close to his ear. As it was necessary from time to time to manually change the settings on the hearing aid, the high-pitched screech happened often and caused him discomfort and embarrassment.
Testimony given on behalf of the claimant by a hearing expert informed the court that former BT employee would be able to avoid his hearing aid problems if he were supplied with a privately purchased hearing aid with Bluetooth technology which cost 2,395 pounds and had a life expectancy of five years. BT disputed this claim based on historical evidence of previous BT employee´s hearing injury claims the company has faced.
In August 2010 – in Watkins v British Telecommunications – BT had admitted that the green and unmodified yellow testing sets previously supplied to telephone engineers presented a risk of injury and was a breach in their duty of care. This admission led to many haring injury compensation claims by former BT employees.
However, whereas subsequent BT employee´s hearing injury compensation claims were settled out of court, BT argued that the claimant in this case did not qualify for a privately purchased hearing aid as an NHS supplied hearing aid should be adequate for his hearing injury.
The judge at Cardiff County Court ruled that the sum claimed by the former BT employee for his hearing injury was appropriate in the circumstances and – allowing for inflation, warranty charges, service fees and batteries – included 11,422 pounds special damages in the claimant´s settlement for BT employee hearing injury of 19,372 pounds.