Council Job Caused Deafness

2 Jul 2011

A council driver was made deaf by exposure to dangerous levels of noise at work. GMB member David Carr, 65, from Rotherham has received £6,000 in damages after suffering from noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus. His hearing became damaged while working for Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council during the 1960s and 1970s. He worked as a roadworker, JCB driver, HGV driver and mower for the council. As a roadworker, he was exposed to unsafe levels of noise from tools like jackhammers, drills and vibrator rollers for up to five hours a day. He was exposed to engine noise for just as long when working as a driver on JCBs, HGVs and lawnmowers.

Mr Carr was diagnosed with deafness and tinnitus after a check up in the workplace in August 2009. Facing a union-backed compensation claim, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council admitted liability and agreed the £6,000 payout. Mr Carr, who is now retired, said: ‘We were never warned about the dangers at the time. We just got on with our work and never imagined what damage it was doing to our hearing. All these years later I’m now left hard of hearing. It can leave you feeling isolated and I now wish we had been given the correct protection for our ears to have avoided this happening.’

Tim Roach, GMB Yorkshire & North Derbyshire regional secretary, said: ‘Industrial deafness is usually a condition associated with factory workers and those using pneumatic drills. As Mr Carr’s case shows employers who have staff driving heavy machinery must also be aware of their responsibility to provide suitable hearing protection.’