Potters, miners and steel workers wait on hearing damage payouts
THOUSANDS of pounds in compensation could be paid to former potters, miners and steel workers who were left with hearing problems caused by noisy machinery.
Attwood Solicitors has taken on a number of cases from individuals whose hearing has been permanently damaged due to working in a loud environment.
Yesterday the Burslem-based firm held a free advice day where around 40 workers were given a hearing test to determine the level of damage.
Rachel Birchall, head of the noise-induced hearing loss team, said: "We have had a lot of people from the pottery industry, along with steel workers and miners as those were big industries in this area."
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Since 2008 the firm has settled hundreds of cases with compensation ranging from £1,500 to £12,000 with the average claim at around £5,000.
Mrs Birchall added: "Compensation depends on the degree of hearing loss and the amount that is attributable to noise.
"We claim against the insurer not the company so we don't want people to be put off coming to see us because the firm they worked for no longer exists.
"We can claim back as far as 1963 as that's when companies were aware of the need to protect their workers."
Paul Bennett, managing director of Hear4U, the firm carrying out the tests, said: "We test on a specific frequency and we can tell if hearing problems have been caused by noise damage.
"You only have to look back to the mining industry where people would just put some flannelette in their ears."
Last month ex-potter Adrian Ward, of Longton, achieved a landmark court victory after being awarded £3,000 in compensation following a successful five-year battle against the insurers of Longton-based John Tams Group PLC.
Now dozens more workers are hoping to prove their hearing problems are down to exposure to noise.
Father-of-four Edward Rawlingson, aged 77, of Abbey Hulton, who worked in the pottery industry for 46 years, attended yesterday's free session where he was advised his hearing may have been damaged by noise.
He said: "My hearing has been getting gradually worse over the past two or three years.
"I have recently been advised I need a hearing aid.
"It was very noisy where I worked and I remember a big gas dryer being used to dry the glaze."
Another pottery worker Gary Newton could also be in line for compensation.
The 52-year-old of Longton, who worked in the industry for 27 years, said: "When someone is talking to me I can't always hear them.
"You didn't think of it being a noisy environment when you were there, you just got on with it."
Former welder Paul Mills, aged 55, of Cheadle, was advised his hearing loss was not down to noise from the workplace.
The father-of-two said: "I thought it might have been caused by the noise but it may be age."