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The Police Service of Northern Ireland has paid out £11.9 million to compensate former officers who suffered hearing damage as a result of their exposure to noise during their employment.

The successful claims are based on the failure of senior officers to provide suitable ear protection for officers whose hearing was damaged by the sound of gunfire – mainly during training exercises at the Police shooting ranges.

During the Troubles the PSNI was the only police force in the UK to routinely undertake firearms training. During this training it was found that suitable ear protection had not been available for the officers undergoing the training, and as a result of the exposure to the repeated loud noise of gun-shots, their hearing had become irreversibly damaged.

Over the last three years 2,415 cases were settled, working out at an average pay out of £5,000 per claimant. A spokesman for the Police Federation said that the Police were no different to other employees who might be injured at work. “There were deficiencies in the ways in which the officers were protected from damage to their hearing. A rigorous claims process is in place and each claim is only settled after due diligence and professional medical assessment.”

Once your hearing is damaged, there is practically nothing that can be done to repair the damage. Any job which involves exposure to loud noise should have suitable procedures and protection available for anyone who may be exposed, whether that be an employee, a visitor, or even a member of the public. Gun-shots are a fairly clear example of loud noise, but even if you work in a library or a call centre, risks should be assessed and systems put in place to protect workers’ hearing.

If you or someone you care for has had their hearing damaged through exposure to loud noise in their workplace, you should contact one of our solicitors. We have years of experience in handling cases to do with hearing loss and will swiftly be able to talk through your case and identify if you have a claim, and if so, how much that claim could be worth. There’s no obligation to continue with a case unless you wish to do so, and it is completely free to call us, so call us today and let us help you get the pay out you deserve.

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