A recent lawsuit against 3M and Aearo Technologies, who were found compliant in providing defective Combat Arms Earplugs (ear protectors), falsifying test results and misrepresenting the Earplugs performance to obtain a multi-million dollar contract with the US military, has resulted in 3M agreeing to pay out $9.1 million to resolve allegations that it knowingly sold the Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs to the US Military without disclosing defects that hampered the effectiveness of the hearing protection device. The Earplugs were designed to block out and to reduce battlefield explosions and artillery fire, whilst still allowing the user to hear quieter noises such as communication by fellow soldiers or enemy combatants. The design, however, was not fit for purpose and failed to seal the ear canal correctly, when in a certain position, thereby opening up the user’s ears to potential hearing damage. US Army veteran, George Dooley filed the lawsuit, when diagnosed with hearing loss and tinnitus, having never before suffered from any hearing loss.
Mr Dooley was diagnosed with tinnitus and hearing loss when he retired from the military in 2008. He regularly used 3M’s defective Combat Arms earplugs at gun ranges and in military vehicles, including while deployed in Iraq. This has had a dramatic impact on his day to day life; the constant ringing in his ears interferes with everyday conversations and affects his sleep.
Whilst this is an American case, hearing loss through ineffective ear protection needs to be considered carefully. At Outsource-safety we are able to carry out noise exposure surveys, capture accurate exposure data and recommend appropriate noise management plans and possible ear protection. Please contact us for further discussions and to arrange a consultation. If you have a requirement for noise monitoring you can speak directly to one of our experienced consultants on 01453 800100 or request a personal call back from one of them.