What is acoustic shock and is it categorised as an accident at work?
“Acoustic shock” is a term used to describe exposure to brief and sudden, high frequency; high intensity sounds through a headset.
What causes acoustic shock?
There is no one single cause of acoustic shock. However, some instances of acoustic shock have been attributed to; poor and faulty headsets, transmission faults within networks, lightning, feedback from cordless and mobile telephones, tone from fax machines or modems, and maliciously generated sounds. Maliciously generated sounds are created when someone intentionally makes a loud noise or blows a whistle over the telephone in order to irritate the person on the other end, and can be a serious occupational hazard for employees who may use a headset.
How serious is acoustic shock?
Thankfully the effects of acoustic shock are very rarely permanent, however, some sufferers have noted; severe earaches, Tinnitus, problems with balance, temporary hearing loss, pain in the neck and jaw, pain in the face, headaches, and in rare cases, collapsing.
Some workers have also noted psychological problems related to acoustic shock. Cases of sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, and anger are common.
Call centre workers in particular are exposed to the risks of acoustic shock from wearing headsets for extended periods of time, and are most at risk of malicious sounds created by people who do not wish to be disturbed in their home by callers.
How can I reduce the chances of acoustic shock?
In recent years, a number of manufacturers have produced headsets which actively limit the amount of noise which can be transmitted through the headset. The headsets automatically cut off any communication above 118 dB, the level of noise which the human ear can tolerate without sustaining damage.
You can also reduce the chances of suffering an acoustic shock by reducing the amount of ambient noise present in the workplace, meaning less straining to hear conversations, and therefore reduce central auditory gain which increases the effects of acoustic shock.
I’ve suffered an acoustic shock, am I entitled to claim compensation?
If you’ve suffered problems due to acoustic shock within the last 3 years and it wasn’t your fault then you may be entitled to claim compensation. Contact Accident Advice Helpline today for more information. Lines are open 24/7 on 0800 689 0500 and our friendly and professional advisers are waiting to take your call.
Date Published: January 2, 2014
Author: David Brown