Part-time Salon Assistant in Dundee was exposed to excessive noise during one 4 hour shift.
Haesel McDonald was a part-time salon assistant at the tanning salon Indigo Sun Retail Limited on Strathmartine Road, Dundee between January 2015 and February 2016.
On Saturday 12th December 2015, Miss McDonald worked a 4 hour shift between 9.00am and 1.00pm that day. Just after 9.00am the fire alarm sounded within the premises and continued to sound until around 12.55pm. There was no fire and the cause of the activation of the fire alarms is not known.
The premises manager, Steven Campbell, arrived at the premises at around 11am and attempted to muffle the sound of the alarm with tape, saying that an engineer had been called. Miss McDonald said she was not offered any form of ear protection and was told to keep working.
An investigation into the incident heard that Miss McDonald exposed to an average of 87.5dB prior to her manager placing tape over the alarm and 82.9dB thereafter. She said she continued to be aware of a ringing in both ears after her shift had ended and later noticed an impairment of her hearing. In December 2016 she was diagnosed with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and provided with hearing aids on the NHS.
In March 2017, Miss McDonald was referred to a consultant otolaryngologist, Professor Laing. His working diagnosis was that the pursuer had sensitive inner ears and that most of her hearing loss had been caused by the exposure to the noise of the alarms.
Indigo Sun Retail Ltd was found to be at fault in common law and under its statutory duty under The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. Miss McDonald should not have been exposed to the noise of the alarm and she should have been instructed to leave the premises after it had activated.
The defender was found to be liable for the pursuer’s hearing loss. Damages were assessed at £25,000 for solatium, £1,300 of interest thereof, and £214,977 for the future cost of private hearing aids replaced every three years. The total award amounted to £241,277.
RV Acoustics Comments
With only 4 hours noise exposure, this case shows that noise induced hearing loss or ‘industrial deafness’ claims do not need to be as a result of lengthy periods of exposure to excessive noise.
The majority of NIHL or Tinnitus claims don’t make the public press as they are often settled with large out of court settlements, so this recently reported decision in Haesel McDonald v Indigo Sun Retail Limited is therefore particularly noteworthy.