- Deafness: An employee could be deafened by a sudden noise that arises from something like an explosion.
But of course, industrial deafness can arise from long–term exposure to constant noise; even if it does not appear to be that loud, over time it can cause a cumulative effect. It may also lead to tinnitus, which is heard as a ringing in the ear, especially when there is no external noise at all.
The usual time limitation of three years does not apply so stringently in this case, as it is difficult to pinpoint the precise moment when this type of industrial injury was caused. Your employer should provide you with protective equipment if you are exposed to constant noise in your working environment.
- Disease: The most common industrial diseases at the moment are suffered by those who worked extensively with asbestos, before it was banned in the UK. As a cheap and readily available material with many different applications, it was mined widely all over the country. It was only banned after numerous reports surfaced of people falling ill who had worked with the material.
The most common form of asbestos related disease is mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that affects the mucous linings of the body – found in the heart and lungs among other places. Work compensation is almost a formality for people affected by this condition, as it carries a poor prognosis.
- Falling from a height: This can mean two things: either an employee falls from a height themselves, or they are struck by something above them. Fault for this can lie with the employer to an extent.
Take the case of Tom Williams, a 61 year old engineer, who was seriously injured in 2008 during an exercise that, ironically, was meant to improve health and safety at a Merseyside bakery. Mr Williams was sawing through an upright metal pillar in order to remove it. When his saw became snagged halfway through performing the second manoeuvre, he used a crowbar to try and free the 65kg structure, but it snapped and fell on his head, rendering him unable to work and needing extensive care for the rest of his life.
On the other hand, we can take the well-known case of David Morris (well known because it’s been advertised on television) who was injured when the ladder he was using slipped and fell, sending him and his electrical equipment tumbling about ten feet to the ground. Was the accident his fault, for using the wrong ladder? No, it was his employers’. They should have recognised that he needed a specific type of equipment for the job he was doing i.e. a ladder with grips on its feet for outdoor work. Mr Morris made a successful work accident claim against them.
- RSI: Another injury that can build up gradually with no sudden trigger, repetitive strain injury or RSI is an umbrella term that covers a range of conditions. The most common type affects those who work in offices and use computers. Constant use of keyboard can eventually lead to pain in the wrists and other areas of the body and associated problems like carpal tunnel syndrome. Employers have a duty to ensure that people who use a computer have safe working conditions to prevent this condition from developing. It is recommended that people who use a computer frequently take a short 5-10 minute break from doing so every hour and avoid sitting in the same position for too long.
- Vibration: another factor in conditions that affect miners and others in similar work; vibration can cause conditions such as vibration white finger and also RSI. An employer has a duty to ensure that staff working with power tools and heavy duty equipment are given adequate training in how to use them properly.
Date Published: September 22, 2010
Author: David Brown