Telecommunications giant BT is bracing itself for a wave of compensation claims from former employees in South Wales, after it was found that some engineering equipment could potentially have caused irreparable hearing damage.
The law firm representing the 300 former BT engineers who have signed up to the class action lawsuit already believes that “tens of thousands” more complainants could still come forward to claim compensation from the corporation. The most commonly reported complaints are hearing loss and tinnitus.
One former BT employee, Terry Knight, worked for the company and used the tone sets for 29 years. After he retired in 1994, his doctor confirmed that he has permanent hearing damage and needed hearing aids in both ears. Mr Knight received an out-of-court settlement from his former employers.
BT, presumably relying on its legally-required employers’ liability professional insurance policy to cover the costs, has already paid out thousands of pounds to disgruntled former employees so far.
In one important court case, BT admitted that certain types of its tone sets (also known as oscillators) used to test telephone lines emitted noise levels high enough to cause temporary or permanent hearing loss to the user.