Industrial deafness is a condition that results in gradual or sudden loss of hearing as a direct consequence of a person’s working environment. It is also referred to as noise induced hearing loss or occupational deafness.
If you work in an environment where the noise levels are often above 80dB and you find that you are always asking others to speak louder or you often need to turn up the volume on the television, you may be suffering from a case of industrial deafness caused by the high noise levels in your workplace.
Employers Have A Legal Responsibility
Noise is an inescapable part of some industries such as construction, foundries, quarrying and mining amongst others. Workers employed in these industries are more prone to suffering from industrial deafness. However, this does not mean that you have to accept work-related deafness as an occupational hazard and that you have no recourse to the law.
The Control Of Noise At Work Regulation was introduced in 2005 as a way to protect workers from excessive exposure to high levels of noise in the workplace. This regulation stipulates that employers are responsible for providing their employees with a risk-free working environment that is safe from accidents and industrial illnesses. This includes protection against damaging noise levels.
This means, in workplaces where noise levels rise above 80dB, employers are legally required to put measures in place to reduce volume levels. If the industry is such that loud noises cannot be avoided, the Control Of Noise At Work Regulation mandates that employers must provide workers with adequate ear protection as well as information and training on how to use and care for the hearing protectors.
Employers who neglect to measure noise levels at the workplace or who do not provide protective equipment to workers are considered in breach of the regulations and an industrial deafness claim for compensation can be filed against them.
Symptoms Of Industrial Deafness
If you’ve been exposed to high noise levels in the workplace and are suffering from any of these symptoms, you may have sufficient cause to file a claim for industrial deafness compensation:
- Temporary or permanent lack of hearing
- Difficulty to hear in one or both ears
- Total lack of hearing in one or both ears
- Having to turn up media to high levels to hear properly
The below two symptoms are of special significance only because most people do not immediately relate these to industrial deafness:
- Tinnitus: Constant buzzing, ringing, ticking, hissing or droning noises in your ears are signs of tinnitus, which can also be caused by high noises.
- Acoustic Trauma: Acoustic trauma is a kind of deafness that occurs exceptionally quickly if an individual is subjected to an extremely loud noise such as an explosion or a series of loud noises as those made by gunshots at close range.
Making An Industrial Deafness Claim
When filing a claim for industrial deafness, there are several factors that will need to be taken into consideration. Every compensation claim will have a different set of circumstances, from the cause of the deafness to the level of pain and suffering. An injury compensation claim for total hearing loss in both ears will be substantially higher than the compensation for partial hearing loss in one ear.
In order to file a successful industrial deafness compensation claim, it is absolutely important to do the following:
- Visit a qualified medical professional and get a proper diagnosis of deafness and/or tinnitus. To file a claim, you will need to produce an official medical report detailing the extent of your injury.
- Proving that your injury was caused because of the work environment is another essential requirement. This could involve putting together documentary evidence about conditions in the workplace as well as collating witness statements from workmates.
- You will also need to prove that your employer could have reasonably foreseen the possibility of hearing injuries in the workplace but failed to take the necessary preventive measures or provide you with the required information and training that would have helped prevent your injuries.
All three factors are vital to the success of your industrial deafness claim.
Time Limits For Filing Industrial Deafness Claims
As with all personal injury claims, there are time limits within which you have to file your claim for industrial deafness. If you think you may be entitled to compensation for your hearing injury, it is best to seek advice from an experienced personal injury solicitor as soon as possible to maximise your chances of filing a successful claim.
It takes time to put gather all the necessary information and documentary evidence you will need to file a compelling case. Time is of the essence and the sooner you get started, the better your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.