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BT deafness compensation claims

Do you work or have you worked as an engineer for British Telecom (BT)? Did you use tone sets or other noisy equipment?

Hearing difficulties?

The Hugh James BT hearing loss team of solicitors has already helped over 2000 union and non-union BT employees claim compensation for their hearing problems. We have worked with current and former BT engineers for many years and are extremely experienced in BT hearing loss compensation claims. Contact us today for free, no obligation advice.

We are currently acting on behalf of current BT engineers and former BT engineers across the UK, which includes CWU and non-union members, who have suffered hearing loss as a result of their work.

BT engineers and tone sets

Engineers working for BT use “tone sets” when “pairing out tones” during installation or maintenance of telephone lines. Tone sets are oscillators and amplifiers used to detect lines and faults on lines.

Our clients are mainly engineers and former engineers who have suffered hearing problems caused by the sound of the tone sets and are now taking action for their hearing loss. Some BT engineers have also suffered hearing health problems when working in noisy telephone exchanges in particular the older strowger or director equipment.

Other engineers have suffered hearing health problems whilst using, or working close to, kango hammers, jackhammers, pole erection units and mole ploughs without hearing protection. Most of our clients have been unaware that they have been exposed to excessive noise when using “tone sets”.

BT tone set

BT response to hearing loss claims

The Hugh James BT hearing loss team has led the BT hearing loss litigation for many years. It was as a direct result of court action pursued by Hugh James solicitors that BT made general admissions that the green and unmodified yellow tone sets emitted excessively high noise levels, that could cause damage.

Key contact

Kathryn Singh


Kathryn is a partner and head of the Workplace Disease and Illness department which is ranked as a top tier firm for the work carried out. Kathryn leads a strong team of industrial disease specialists with an emphasis upon delivering a high level of specialist advice in multiple high value disease illness claims and complex group litigation.

Case studies

Hugh James has successfully recovered compensation on behalf of Mr Malcolm Hill from Merthyr Tydfil.

Mr Hill was employed by BT for 32 years as a jointer and used a number of tone sets provided by BT to enable him to identify tones in cables. Mr Hill brought a claim against BT as a result of suffering hearing loss.

A medical examination revealed that Mr Hill has a hearing loss caused by noise. BT admitted that they had been negligent and agreed to settle Mr Hill’s claim.

Mr Hill comments that “I would recommend that anyone who has a claim against BT goes to Hugh James who dealt with my case swiftly and efficiently. I had no idea that my hearing had been damaged by noise through the equipment that I was given to use by BT to do my job.”

Mr Hill’s claim is one in a number of claim’s being pursued by Hugh James on behalf of current and present BT engineers. At Hugh James we have a dedicated team that specialises in dealing with noise induced hearing loss claims and recovering compensation for not only the injury but also any appropriate treatment by way of hearing aids and tinnitus treatment.

Mr Fletcher from the Isle Of Wight noticed his hearing was deteriorating over 10 years ago. He found it difficult to keep up with conversations with people in a group and struggled to hear people over any background noise. Mr Fletcher worked at BT for 37 years as a tele-engineer installer. He frequently used the tone set equipment within his job role. He also worked at other noisy environments such as strowger exchanges on a daily basis, for up to two hours.

Mr Fletcher was never provided with any hearing protection and was completely oblivious that his hearing was being permanently damaged from using the tone set equipment. Mr Fletcher has had to have hearing aids in both ears much sooner than other men his age.

BT admitted exposing Mr Fletcher to excessive noise that was likely to cause damage to his hearing. Hugh James successfully recovered £14,700 for the damages that were cause to Mr Fletcher. Mr Fletcher has expressed the following on the settlement of his claim: “the service received from Hugh James was fantastic, I cannot fault anything. Lucy Strong and her team were always there for me, I cannot emphasise enough the help she has given me, always on hand to give me advice. I would not hesitate to recommend Lucy to anyone, in fact I have already passed her details to former colleagues.”

Mr E had noticed over the last few years that his hearing was deteriorating and was worse than men of his own age. He frequently missed parts of conversation, particularly when there was background noise. He would have difficulty hearing the telephone and his family would often complain that the TV was on too loud.

Mr E had worked for BT for over 30 years as a telephone engineer and jointer and was still employed by them when he realised that there must have been something else other than age which was affecting his hearing loss.

During his employment Mr E had frequently used a variety of tone sets and drills without hearing protection. Hugh James arranged for Mr E to be medically examined by a consultant who tested his hearing and was able to confirm that Mr E’s hearing was considerably worse than other men of his age and confirmed that the noise that he had been exposed to during his employment had caused him to suffer a permanent hearing loss. The expert advised that Mr E would also need hearing aids.

BT admitted exposing Mr E to excessive noise that was likely to cause damage to his hearing. Hugh James successfully recovered £13,000 in damages for Mr E to also enable him to purchase discreet hearing aids to help him hear on a day to day basis.

Mr D had worked for BT for over 25 years as a faults maintenance jointer. During his employment he frequently used tone set equipment to locate cable faults. Mr D approached Hugh James as he noticed that he was missing parts of conversation with his family and friends and constantly found that the volume of the television set was high. Mr D was subsequently diagnosed with high frequency sensory neural hearing loss and tinnitus caused by exposure to noise.

Hugh James successfully brought a claim against BT for damages as a result of Mr D’s injury in the sum of £13,000, which included the costs of purchasing hearing aids.

Your questions answered

The hearing damage has been caused by the use of tone sets which were used when installing and maintaining telephone lines.

Some BT engineers have also suffered hearing problems when working in noisy telephone exchanges in particular the old strowger or director equipment. Other engineers have suffered hearing problems whilst using or working close to kangohammers, jackhammers, pole erection units and mole ploughs without action being taken to prevent hearing loss.

Our clients’ hearing loss problems include difficulties with normal conversations, not hearing the TV and not being able to hear when there is background noise. Many of our clients suffer from noises in their ears known as tinnitus, and also require hearing aids.

Most of us do not notice for some time a loss in our hearing health. More often than not our families notice it first. Usually the hearing loss develops over a long time especially where there is prolonged exposure to noise.

Common hearing problem indicators include:

  • Having the television or radio on louder than is comfortable for other members of the family
  • Difficulty hearing the telephone ring
  • Often saying pardon and asking people to repeat what they have said
  • Often being accused of not listening
  • Difficulty following conversation in a group of people especially where there is background noise
  • Noises in your ears such as a ringing or buzzing
  • Finding loud sounds uncomfortable

If you recognise these symptoms and have worked as a BT engineer then we may be able to help you take action and make a claim, this includes both CWU and non union members. In many cases the claim will include the cost of treatment for tinnitus therapy and the future cost of hearing aids.

Although BT tone sets are the most common cause of BT employees to suffer hearing loss, they are not exclusively causing the problems. There are many other pieces of equipment and machinery which are causing, and have caused, problems for BT engineers. The Hugh James BT hearing loss team are helping sufferers from all types of equipment.

  • Strowger or director equipment: Some BT engineers suffer from hearing health problems due to working in noisy Strowger or Director telephone exchanges.
  • Pole erection units: BT engineers and former BT engineers have also alleged to have suffered hearing loss and tinnitus as a result of using pole erections units during their employment with BT.
  • Mole ploughs: BT engineers allege to have suffered hearing loss and/or tinnitus as a result of using mole ploughs.

The BT employee hearing health loss claims include compensation for the injury. In many cases the claim will include the cost of treatment for tinnitus therapy and the future cost of hearing aids. A number of our clients have already benefited from our help and received compensation.

We have successfully helped numerous current and former BT engineers to claim damages as a direct result of the equipment they were provided with by BT. We have a considerable specialism in this area of law.

At Hugh James we have a great deal of experience in assisting clients who suffer with hearing loss. We appreciate the effects that hearing loss and tinnitus can have.

As part of the claim, we will arrange for you to be examined by an experienced consultant ENT surgeon and an audiologist, who will recommend whether you may benefit from hearing aids now or in the future.

There are now a wide variety of hearing aids available and provided that the medical experts believe that you require a hearing aid now or in the future then the cost may be included in your compensation.

You will also receive recommendations for treatment where this is appropriate. For instance, for people suffering from tinnitus, this may include tinnitus retraining therapy.

In personal injury claims, if you do have to issue legal proceedings you have to do so within three years from the date of your accident. With hearing health loss claims you have to issue legal proceedings by the third anniversary of your ‘date of knowledge’ i.e., the date you first linked your hearing problems to your use of the tone set equipment. This is because the effect of noise exposure may not result in a noticeable injury i.e., hearing loss or tinnitus for some time

Our current clients are all represented under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), more commonly known as a no win, no fee agreement. T

his means that if your case is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay anything. We will only take on your case if, after assessing your claim, we decide that there is a reasonable chance of success. Our initial consultation is free, so you won’t pay a penny if we don’t accept your case.

Next steps

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