Often also referred to as noise induced loss of hearing or occupational deafness, industrial deafness is a condition resulting from prolonged exposure to excessive noise in working environments.
Types of industrial deafness
Acoustic shock syndrome, tinnitus and permanent or temporary loss of hearing are all conditions than can be caused by prolonged exposure to high level noise or accidents at work involving sudden noises of extreme volume. An explosion, for example, could induce temporary hearing loss by those closest to the incident.
Employers’ responsibility to prevent workplace accidents
According to the 2005 Act, stipulating regulations for control of noise at work, employers are required to have preventative measures in place to protect workers against work-related accidents involving excessive noise levels. In essence, if noise levels consistently exceed 80 dB, employers are required to find ways of lowering these levels and/ or provide protective equipment to their employees.
Measures that should be in place
Measures employers need to take if noise levels are likely to be above 80 dB include regular assessment of noise level risks and the consideration of options to reduce these levels. This may consist of:
- Repositioning of noisy machinery
- Potential purchase of quieter machinery
- Changes in work place lay-out to keep high noise level processes away from quieter ones
Where noise levels cannot be reduced, employers are required to provide adequate protection against the noise. This includes:
- Provision of ear defenders, ear plugs and/ or semi-inserts, depending on noise levels
- Adequate training for employees in the use, storage and maintenance of such protective equipment
- Proper fitting and maintenance of hearing protectors
They also need to ensure that workers wear the provided equipment and do not remain within areas of high level noise any longer than absolutely necessary. In addition, employees need to be informed of the company’s health surveillance policy/obligations under the 2005 noise regulations, as well as:
- What level of noise they will be exposed to
- What the risks involved in being exposed to these levels are
- What is being done to control these risks
- Where to obtain protective equipment
- Where/how to report problems with noise control/protection
Industrial deafness claims
If you are experiencing acoustic shock syndrome, temporary/permanent deafness or tinnitus as a result of accidents at work/prolonged exposure to excessive noise, you may be entitled to claim for industrial deafness compensation. To find out whether you are eligible, you can talk in confidence to friendly Accident Advice Helpline advisers. Calls are answered 24/7, or you can check out the likelihood of a work injury claim being successful by using the compensation calculator provided on our website.