I have been diagnosed with tinnitus and want to claim defective equipment injury compensation as I wear ear defenders at work but I have still suffered hearing problems. Is this possible and what should I do next?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Question:

I have been diagnosed with tinnitus and want to claim defective equipment injury compensation as I wear ear defenders at work but I have still suffered hearing problems. Is this possible and what should I do next?

Answer:

A claim for defective equipment injury compensation should be possible in your case as you have sustained an injury which could have been avoided had you been provided with fully functional personal protective equipment. However, what is not clear is who the respondent should be when you make your defective equipment injury compensation claim.

This will depend on whether the ear defenders provided to you were defective due to a manufacturers fault, whether they were old and in need of replacement or whether they were insufficient and not up to the required standards for the level of protection the environment called for. Personal protective equipment must comply with Council Directive 89/686/EEC, and if substandard ear defenders were provided by your employer or they were improperly maintained it is your employer who will be at fault. A claim for defective equipment injury compensation would therefore need to be made against your employer’s liability insurance policy.

You have already received a medical diagnosis of tinnitus and since you work in a noisy environment it is likely that this is the cause of your condition; however in order to claim defective equipment injury compensation you need to also report your injuries to your employer and make a report in your company’s ‘Accident Book’. A personal injury solicitor will use the Accident Book report alongside your medical records as evidence that the injury was sustained in the workplace.

Your report should outline the circumstances under which you believe your injuries were caused and that you believe your ear defenders to be at fault. However, it is advisable to speak with a personal injury solicitor for legal advice before doing so and to do so without delay. You will be given specific legal advice relating to your case and the steps that you must take next in order to initiate a claim for defective equipment injury compensation.

In order to determine which third party has been negligent and has failed in a duty of care it will be necessary to conduct an investigation. This will include testing your ear defenders for faults and a personal injury solicitor will be able to assist you in this regard. Your employer will also no doubt wish to take action personally if your company has been supplied with faulty personal protective equipment and will also be likely to take legal action against the supplier. Should this be the case, it will be separate from your claim.