Claiming for Industrial Deafness

An introduction to industrial deafness

Photo Credit: Sue Clark

When you ask most people to think about the concept of industrial injuries, the majority will be conjuring up visions of people who’ve had limbs dragged into machinery or been injured when slipping and falling over debris on a factory floor. Whilst instances like this do occur all too often, there are other forms of industrial injury or illness which develop over a longer period of time and are much more difficult to spot.

One of the worst and most debilitating examples an industrial injury is deafness brought about by working in a noisy environment without sufficient protection. As anyone who suffers from significant hearing loss will tell you, it’s one of the most isolating and depressing illnesses there is, and if you think your hearing has been damaged by the conditions in which you work or used to work, then you’ve got every right to think about putting together a claim for compensation against the employer in question.

DID YOU KNOW: Figures from 2010/11 to 2013/14 show that around 18,000 people suffered hearing damage, or had existing damage made worse, due to work-related noise.

When you go to work your employer has a legal and moral duty to ensure that the simple act of doing your job is not injurious to your long term good health. If you work in a noisy atmosphere then this means providing the right type of hearing protection equipment and also ensuring that you receive sufficient breaks to allow your ears to recover.

The causes of industrial deafness and steps to prevent it

The human ear is a complex and delicate mechanism, and exposure to even a single sound, if it’s loud enough, can result in permanent damage, as can exposure to less dramatic loud noises (85 decibels or more) if it’s experienced over a prolonged period of time.

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

This is something which is recognised in statutory terms via the Control of Noise at Work regulations 2005. This law lays down several courses of action which an employer must take when the noise in the workplace reaches certain levels. For example, if the average noise level is up at 80 dB then it is up to the employer to educate their workers as to the damaging effects of noise, and to provide well maintained hearing protection.

If, on the other hand, the average is 85 dB or peaks at 137 dB then the employer has to ensure that the hearing protection is worn and the zones in which it has to be worn need to be clearly visible. There is also a strict rule which states that the average noise level must never exceed 87 dB nor peak at 140 dB.

The main injury caused by prolonged exposure to a noisy work environment is tinnitus, and the most common symptoms are constant buzzing, ringing or humming noises in the ears. Unfortunately, there is no cure for tinnitus, but treatments such as tinnitus retraining therapy can help reduce the effects of the symptoms.

Anyone who suffers from tinnitus due to a noisy work environment is entitled to compensation if their employer did not provide safety equipment or warn of the dangers of persistant, loud noises.

Launching a claim for industrial deafness compensation

If you feel that your employer failed to take these kind of steps despite the fact that they should have been expected to foresee the damage that this could do, and that this failure resulted in your hearing being permanently damaged, then you should call us on 0800 234 6438 and we’ll listen to the details of your case and give an honest assessment of your chances of successfully claiming compensation.

Proving negligence will require two things – firstly demonstrating that your hearing has been damaged, usually via an examination by a medical expert, and secondly by showing that this injury came about following negligence on the part of your employer.

Having your hearing damaged can have a hugely detrimental effect upon your existence, impacting upon your social life and your ability to work and causing feelings of depression and isolation. That’s a huge price to pay for someone else’s negligence, and it’s only fair that you should be compensated. A personal injury lawyer will devote the time and expertise necessary to ensure that you’re not left to cope on your own.

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