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Pay out for worker left partially deaf.

Byline: Dan Warburton Chief Reporter

A BUS mechanic left partially deaf has clinched a four-figure payout after his employers failed to give him ear defenders.

John Johnston suffered tinnitus after he was exposed to excessive noise levels at United Automobile Ltd between 1970 and 1978.

The 60-year-old, from Gosforth, Newcastle, says he was never provided with ear protection despite being surrounded by hammering, compressed air guns, ratchets, spanners and the loud noise from bus engines.

And after he was left partially deaf solicitors secured an undisclosed four-figure sum from the Jesmond-based company, which no longer exists. Dad-of-four John, who lives with his wife, Carol, commented: "It's terrible to think that had I have been given the appropriate ear protection that I would not be in the state I am now.

"It was extremely noisy but you just get on with your job and because I wasn't offered any protection or warned about the dangers, it doesn't cross your mind that you may suffer later in life. At 60 years old I am now required to wear hearing aids, suffering from tinnitus and I feel like I am shouting all the time just to communicate. It is just frustrating and embarrassing.

"I hope this highlights the importance of wearing the appropriate protection in the work place as you really don't appreciate how much you rely on your hearing until it is gone."

Over eight years at the company, John operated several machines and used many tools which all created an incredible amount of noise.

But the noise left the grandad partially deaf in both ears, suffering from tinnitus and struggling with communicating with friends and family in everyday life. He instructed Sarah Tagg, a specialist industrial deafness lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, to pursue a claim on his behalf. She said: "John was never warned or advised about the dangers of noise-induced hearing loss or provided with the appropriate protective equipment during his employment at United Automobile Ltd despite being exposed to loud noises every day in his role.

"His case highlights the importance of workplace health and safety policies and all employers have a duty of care to their staff which includes the appropriate equipment to protect them while they work and informing them about the potential hazards.

"The damage to John's hearing is permanent and means that John is likely to have to wear a hearing aid many years earlier than expected.

"Partial hearing loss can significantly affect a person's life from struggling to listen to conversations, to requiring home adaptations such as specially developed telephones, doorbells and alarm systems. "John is now unable to hear properly through no fault of his own so we hope the settlement will give him the funds to improve his quality of life."

The company's insurers have never admitted liability, but compensation will pay for specialist hearing aids.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 18, 2014
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