Thousands of people coping with distressing hearing problems are being encouraged to seek help and compensation.

A leading Belfast law firm says many industrial workers and members of the security forces remain afflicted with hearing conditions such as 'tinnitus' from heavy industry engineering work and security force firearms training.

For decades workers were not properly protected against hearing loss across many sectors - and are now suffering from a condition often referred to as 'industrial deafness,' or 'noise-induced hearing loss.'

Sufferers include workers in industrial plants and police, prison service or armed services personnel whose hearing was damaged by firearms training.

Now, Belfast law firm McConnell Kelly says victims should not suffer in silence but should seek help and have set up a dedicated hotline for those who are concerned to call:

“Northern Ireland and particularly Belfast has a long history of employment in heavy industries such as the shipyards, aircraft manufacture and iron works," says Fergus McConnell, Director at McConnell Kelly Solicitors.

"Workers over the years, including members of the security forces, will have been exposed to excessive noise without adequate hearing protection such as earplugs.  It often takes years for the hearing-related health conditions manifest themselves.

"We believe that there could be potentially thousands of people affected, where the symptoms of exposure to excessive noise create a 'ringing' sensation in the ears.

“Often our clients have only been alerted to such health issues through family members - where an individual can no longer hear the phone ringing in another room, or has to turn the TV up to a very loud volume just to hear the news.

"Nationally, claims have shot up by 189% in the last three years alone as the effects of noise-induced hearing loss become apparent - with most of our clients being in their latter years."

Help is at hand:

Noise-induced hearing loss is, unfortunately, both permanent and incurable. some hearing aids can help but for others little can be done medically to improve the hearing loss.

Fergus McConnell added: "The Law recognises that where employers, particularly in the 1970's, 80's and 90's failed to provide employees with adequate protection to reduce the risk of hearing-related health conditions, and where this negligence can be proven, individuals are entitled to compensation.

"As a firm, McConnell Kelly has successfully obtained compensation in excess of £1M for clIents in such cases in the past decade.

"We still believe that there are still thousands who are set to benefit and that's why we are taking action to increase awareness and to let those affected know that help is at hand."

  • If you believe you may have been affected and are suffering symptoms from 'industrial deafness,' contact McConnell Kelly today on 028 9065 5511, where our experienced team will guide you through the process and next steps to take.



  • ‘Ringing’ in the ears
  • Having to turn the TV up loud
  • Unable to hear the telephone
  • Other hearing issues
  • History of working in loud places
  • Firearms training
  • Inadequate audio protection



Genuine NIHL claims can be split into four categories.

Here is what they mean:


MILD - 20-39dB

Some difficulty hearing when in a noisy environment.


MODERATE - 40-69dB

Difficulty holding a conversation without a hearing aid.


SEVERE - 70-90dB

Requires the use of a powerful hearing aid.


PROFOUND - More than 90dB

Relies on lip reading, sign language and other non-vocal communications.


Claims can also be made for Tinnitus - a ringing or rushing sound that is heard by the brain even through there is no external noise stimulus. There is no objective test for Tinnitus.


Issued on behalf of McConnell Kelly Solicitors.

October 2015

Industrial deafness