Spanish court rules that school canteen noise caused dinner lady’s hearing loss, and awards her damages



© SDI Productions - iStock

Being deafened by hungry schoolkids is now an official occupational hazard in Spain, after a Bilbao court that a school refectory assistant's hearing loss was caused by the din in her habitual workplace.

Noisy children, the bashing of cutlery and crockery, and the general lunchtime racket were blamed by the tribunal for the worker developing a diagnosed bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. The court recognised that the worker “carried out her post submitted to a daily noise level of over 80 decibels”. She has worked for over 30 years at a state school in the Basque town of Portugalete.

The hearing loss, which was classified as not affecting her speech recognition, was not deemed to be disabling, so the dinner lady was awarded corresponding damages of €1,800, to be paid jointly by Spanish Social Security and the mutual insurance company covering her employer, Gastronomía Cantábrica.

The sentence was announced by the Spanish trade union Workers’ Commission (Comisiones Obreras), which has called on companies to carry out a specific evaluation of noise levels in school dining halls, “sites particularly susceptible to producing high noise levels”.

Source: La Vanguardia