A group of former telephone operators are to issue civil proceedings in the coming weeks against Eircom for loss of hearing.
It has beenlearned that a leading audiologist has tested more than 150 retired operators, two thirds of whom showed varying signs of hearing loss.
The Communication Workers Union has confirmed that a number of these are now proceeding with claims for compensation.
The 1960s, 70s and 80s, telephone exchanges were at the heart of communications in Ireland. At one point, thousands of telephone operators using headsets, manually connecting the nation's calls.
But some switchboard operators believe their hearing has been affected by listening to loud tones from emergency calls and also coin operated machines.
Many of the operators contacted their former union CWU and have since sought legal advice.
It is understood civil proceedings are now due to be issued against Eircom.
The company, formerly known as Telecom Éireann, is now owned by Babcock and Brown and was once and part of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs.
It is understood no proceedings are being brought against the State.
In a statement today, Eircom said it would be fully defending any such claims.
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