It’s impossible to imagine what it would be like to live without the sense of hearing. While the majority of cases of deafness occur through age (6.5 million people over the age of 60 are thought to be deaf), some occur because of conditions in the workplace. Industrial deafness is the term given to hearing loss that happens due to the job a person does.
All employers are required by law to make sure their workplaces are safe in every respect. This applies in many ways. An employer must ensure various hazards are removed or minimised, including:
- Excessive noise
- Hazards that may lead to slips, trips and falls
- Conditions that may lead to musculoskeletal disorders
- Conditions that may lead to illness through exposure to chemicals, dust and other hazards
Thankfully, most employers go above and beyond what is required under the terms of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. However, the risk of injury and illness may occasionally rear its head, and industrial deafness may potentially be one of the outcomes for some.
While we might think of all hearing loss being the same, this isn’t true. Experts state there are three kinds of hearing problems:
- Sensorineural loss of hearing
- Conductive loss of hearing
- Mixed hearing loss (a mix of both the above types)
In the case of industrial deafness, sensorineural hearing loss is the likely type to occur. This is because it develops due to wear and tear in the ear.
How common is hearing loss caused by industrial deafness?
It is thought around one in six people overall in the UK have some form of hearing loss. Most of these are due to simple wear and tear we all experience with age. Basically, the older we get, the more likely it is we will suffer from some form of hearing loss, whether partial or more serious. Since most employers take every care to protect the health of their employees, it is very rare for someone to experience industrial deafness.
Some jobs involve working in loud environments, but in these cases, ear defenders and other personal protective equipment (sometimes referred to simply as PPE) is issued to ensure the ears and hearing are protected. Here are just some of the jobs and industries where noise levels can be high enough to potentially cause damage to the hearing:
- The aviation industry
- Construction sites
- The demolition industry
- Those working at concerts and other music venues
- Any workplace that regularly uses loud machinery
In many cases, it will be obvious that industrial deafness could be a potential hazard. However, all workplaces should be assessed for noise levels to reduce the chances of anyone suffering from this condition.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed cases of noise-induced hearing loss have been dropping steadily in recent years, between 2006 and 2015. This is good news, but there are still cases occurring each year, and the people affected will likely never regain any loss of hearing they have suffered.
How much could you receive if you make a claim for industrial deafness?
It is difficult to give an exact figure, because each case is dealt with on its own merits. The most important thing to consider initially is whether such a claim might be a possibility. If you work in a noisy environment, you should have some form of ear protection available to use. Even if you do have ear protection, it should be suitable for the noise levels you are exposed to.
Furthermore, your employer must assess the noise levels as part of a risk assessment. This should be done and updated regularly, to make sure no changes have been made. For example, it could be you have used machinery for several years that never made much noise. If some of this machinery was replaced, and was louder than the machinery you used before, this should be noted in the risk assessment. Even a change of three decibels will double the noise you are hearing. That may seem like a small change, but it could potentially be enough to cause harm. That’s why measuring decibel levels regularly is so important. You may not be able to detect any major change to noise levels by hearing alone. Only by measuring it properly is it possible to know whether it has become harmful.
In this example, preventative measures should be taken to further protect your hearing. For instance, maybe a simple pair of earplugs was suitable before, but now you require proper ear defenders that block out more noise.
Make a claim today
Some people who receive compensation for this condition receive more than others. The extent of the hearing loss will be considered, as well as the effects this will have on the person’s life. It is important to visit your GP as soon as you notice any kind of hearing loss, and you should also mention whether you believe it was caused by the work you do. There are various hearing tests that can be done to determine how serious your hearing loss is. This information will be recorded on your medical records, and it could help you when you try making a claim.
To find out if you could get compensation, you need only get in touch with Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 689 0500, or on 0333 500 0993 on a mobile. Our experienced team of advisors can consider the facts relating to your case, to see whether a claim might be decided in your favour. We also have an online test that is easy to take, and you need only devote 30 seconds to answering the simple questions. Find out today whether you could claim for industrial deafness, and if so, one of our personal injury lawyers could give you an idea of how much your claim might be worth. We are here to provide just the information and support you are looking for.
Date Published: September 26, 2013
Author: David Brown