Two ferry workers sue, say work ruined their hearing

by Tim Flanagan on May 29, 2009

Vanessa Ho has the story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Two longtime ferry workers have sued the state, medicine alleging they were exposed to unsafe noise levels that led to hearing loss while working in the engine rooms of different vessels.

George Greenwood, a chief engineer currently assigned to the Hyak, and Christopher Johnson, a relief chief engineer assigned to different ferries, have measurable hearing damage after working for Washington State Ferries for more than a decade, said their attorney, Rob Williamson.

Williamson said the lawsuits, filed last month in King County Superior Court, are part of a larger pattern of complaints alleging work-related hearing damage among ferry workers. He said he has filed 180 such lawsuits since 1998 against the state Department of Transportation, which runs the ferries.

While the state has improved its protection of workers’ hearing, it hasn’t been enough to protect everyone, Williamson said.

“Even when you do all that you can, this is such a noisy environment that people can get hurt,” he said.

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