British Army resumes AJAX tank production after soldiers lose hearing
A British Army project to develop hundreds of AJAX armoured vehicles is “back on track” after production caused potentially career-ending injuries.
The project to build 589 AJAX vehicles was halted in July 2021 due to safety concerns including high levels of noise exposure and vibrations from the vehicles which injured soldiers during the testing stage.
It has now been confirmed these issues have been resolved, with the Ministry of Defence publicly acknowledging concerns in December 2021. Those operating the vehicles in the future will be given improved hearing protection as well as padded seats. However this has come too late for a number of soldiers who took part in the trial in 2021, many of whom have suffered life-changing injuries as a result of their service.
During the initial testing of the tanks, those operating the vehicle were not provided with adequate hearing protection. During the trials soldiers were on board the tanks for up to eight hours a day for five days a week, and as a result of this exposure, a number of soldiers suffered damage to their hearing in the form of either noise-induced hearing or tinnitus (or both).
During the initial testing stage of the vehicles, there were issues with the alarm system on board which led to them sounding at random times, it has also been confirmed. This alarm was then amplified by the hearing protection that was given to the soldiers on board. The amplification of these alarms also contributed to the hearing loss of those taking part in the trial.
In the worst instances of damage, these soldiers are facing medical discharge from the armed forces as a result of their hearing deteriorating below the minimum level required for service. This can have a devastating effect on an individual as not only have they suffered with potentially irreversible hearing damage that will affect them for the rest of their life, but they have lost a career they enjoyed and which they intended to continue for the foreseeable future.
A number of soldiers who worked on the AJAX platform have also had issues with the levels of vibration they were exposed to during the testing. The time that was spent in the vehicle has led some soldiers with pre-existing but non-career-limiting injuries to become aggravated. Again, in the worst cases, this has severely impacted their ability to continue with their role in the Army.
At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we act for servicemen and women who have been injured in the course of their service, including those who were injured during the initial AJAX tank trials.
If you have suffered an injury as a result of your service and are considering pursuing a claim for compensation, Bolt Burdon Kemp can help. Please contact our team here for free and confidential advice.