A SWINDON solicitor has urged former railway workers to look into compensation claims and Government entitlements.

Brigitte Chandler of Charles Lucas and Marshall Solicitors, based in High Street, Old Town, said she believed there could be many Swindon workers from the railway, car, engineering and manufacturing industries who have suffered hearing loss.

Ms Chandler recently won £25,000 in compensation for a former railway worker left with the hearing condition tinnitis, and said people were not aware hearing issues could be caused by the environment they worked in.

She said: “There are an awful lot of people in the town who are suffering from loss of hearing to some degree or other.

“There are people who have worked in noisy employment who are not aware they have a potential claim.”

Ms Chandler’s appeal came after her client Keith Hewlett, of Kennett Avenue, Greenmeadow, was awarded £25,000 in compensation for loss of hearing after 45 years working for two Swindon companies.

Mr Hewlett worked for British Rail as a fitter between 1962 and 1986, and as a fitter and inspector at Colson Engineering from 1987 to 2007.

He claimed he was not given ear protection or advice at British Rail and was only given ear protection at Colson Engineering from 1999.

Mr Hewlett said he now suffers from poor hearing and tinnitis, a ringing in his ears, and plans to spend his compensation on quality hearing aids.

The 62-year-old was made redundant when Colson Engineering shut in 2007 and has since not been able to find any full-time work.

“It has affected me in the fact that I cannot find a permanent job.

“Obviously if you have got something wrong with you, it makes it tougher.”

While on the railways, Mr Hewlett was exposed to the noise caused by constant riveting and hammering.

When the Swindon railway works closed in 1986 Mr Hewlett began working for Colson at their factory in Argyle Street, Gorse Hill.

“When I started it was the modern age of the railway that was starting,” said Mr Hewlett.

“We had modern workshops, modern ways of teaching, but we weren’t taught about health and safety in that respect.

“If you were a boiler maker you learned to lip read – that was the only way we could sometimes communicate.

“It took several hours to get back to normal hearing afterwards.

“I’m glad I have done this – it may help somebody else get what they are due.”

A spokesman for BRB (Residuary) Ltd, formed after the end of British Rail to look after the residual responsibilities and liabilities of the former British Railway Board, said it settled claims as expeditiously as possible where legal liability rested with it.

Ms Chandler recommended anyone who suspects they have a problem with deafness and worked in a noisy environment to get a referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist who could give them more information on what caused the deafness.

She added a Government Industrial Disablement Pension could help former industrial employees if they fit certain criteria.

An Industrial Disablement Pension application form should be obtained through the JobCentre Plus Castleford IIDB Centre on Leodis Way, Leeds, LS88 8AQ or by calling 0845 758 5433. Claims must be made within five years of leaving that employment.