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Deafness payouts for Burnley and Pendle mill workers
FORMER weavers in Burnley and Pendle have received nearly £40,000 in compensation for hearing loss.
More than another dozen claims are now being processed on behalf of former millworkers against the former Perseverance Mill at Padiham, Smith and Nephew’s in Brierfield and the old Caledonia Textiles in Derby Street, Burnley.
And lawyers believe many more people may be in line for cash payouts.
Today the companies, which once employed hundreds, have either closed down for good or moved out of East Lancashire.
But lawyers say claims can still be pursued, providing that their former insurers can be tracked down.
Dr Tom Smith, the Lancashire Telegraph’s medical expert, said some workers often developed hearing problems much later in life.
“The problem is that deafness does not occur until long after they have left their particular employment,” said Dr Smith.
“Firms which have been caught on the wrong side of these claims will often say that is nothing do with them. But this is the way that deafness can often arise.”
Several of the claims, all of which have been settled over the past two years, have involved the old Perseverance Mill in Albion Street, Padiham, and hearing damage caused by giant looms there.
Successful claimants, who are not being named, include one former loom supervisor, who worked at the mill between 1976 and 2005.
He received a £4,000 out-of-court settlement for a hearing loss that led him to have to lip-read in social situations.
Another cotton weaver, employed there from 1964 to 1973, said that noise of the looms was ‘deafening’ and had led to her suffering mild hearing loss and tinnitus.
From 1963 onwards employers were ordered by the government to make provision to protect their employees’ hearing from noise damage.
Janine McMahon, spokesman for Manchester-based WE Solicitors, which has brought several of the East Lancashire claims, said the problem existed across the textile, engineering and manufacturing industries.
He added: “Even though these mills no longer stand and the companies have long since closed we are still able to pursue successful claims as long as we can find insurance companies.”
The company believes that there are a number of other claimants still to come forward.
Another successful Smith and Nephew’s claimant, who worked at Brierfield Mills for 36 years, was exposed to a variety of looms but only offered ear plugs and protectors later in his career.
He was one of six workers at the Brierfield complex who have been awarded between £3,000 and £6,000 for varying degrees of hearing loss.
Noise levels at the Brierfield mill were estimated to be more than 90 decibels - current European Union regulations stipulate that protection must be offered at anything more than 87db.
Standing seven metres from a pneumatic drill the noise level is estimated to be 95 decibels while 250 metres from a jet engine noise is around 105 decibels.
Other firms involved in successful claims so far include Earby’s Booth & Speak and Spring Mill, S Pickles & Sons Ltd of Barnoldswick, and Wm Uttley Ltd and Walverden Mill Co Ltd, both in Nelson.
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