Industrial Deafness Claim
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Industrial Deafness Claim
Not catching everything being said to you? Struggling to hear on the phone?
Asking for words to be repeated can often be an early sign of noise induced hearing loss.
Work related hearing problems can often be ignored until it’s too late.
You may simply be used to working with high noise levels at a building site, industrial plant or factory. Your may no longer notice or be aware of how much noise is too much noise. Especially if you work with power tools or heavy machinery for more than half an hour each day.
The effects of a noisy workplace or repeated exposure to high background noise are cumulative. This means hearing damage and the resulting effects of work-related hearing loss often build up over time.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) Rise in the Workplace
Unfortunately, industrial deafness caused by excessive noise exposure is not a type of personal injury belonging to the past. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) in the workplace continues to be an ever present concern . Recent figures show a rise in the numbers who have suffered hearing loss while at work.
- Around 1 million workers are estimated to be at risk of hearing loss caused by exposure to excessive noise levels, say the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
- Almost one in six (17 per cent) suffer noise induced hearing loss, tinnitus or other related conditions as a result of loud noise at work, according to latest available figures released by HSE.
- 14,000 workers are estimated to be suffering with work-related hearing problems, between 2018/19 and 2020/21 (Source: Labour Force Survey – LFS).
- 95 new cases of occupational deafness in 2019, up by 73 per cent, from 55 new cases in 2019 (Source: Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit – IIDB).
Symptoms of Industrial Deafness
You could be suffering noise induced hearing loss if you are:
- Unable to hear conversations clearly.
- Asking people to repeat themselves.
- Struggling to hear when there’s background noise.
- Hearing a ringing, whistling or rushing sound inside your ears.
- Frequently needing to turn TV volume up.
Tinnitus – Sign of Ear Damage?
- 1 in 8 people in the UK are affected by tinnitus, according to the British Tinnitus Association (BTA).
Tinnitus is described as an abnormal ear noise, commonly experienced as a ringing, whistling or rushing sound.
The sounds may be ‘heard’ in any of the four sections of one ear – the outer ear, middle ear, inner ear, or inside the head. In many cases it is a temporary condition and not a serious problem.
However, constant loud noise exposure can cause inner ear damage, which in turn may lead to tinnitus – but tinnitus does not itself cause hearing loss. Unfortunately, hearing loss sufferers can also be afflicted with tinnitus.
There are 3 types of tinnitus:
- Acute Tinnitus – can remain for up to three months.
- Subacute Tinnitus – generally lasts between four and six months.
- Chronic Tinnitus – known to continue beyond six months.
A type of severe tinnitus, which is prolonged, is known as ‘decompensated tinnitus’. It can lead to a hyper sensitivity to sounds, difficulty in concentrating, anxiety, disturbed sleep and depression.
Hearing Loss – effect upon emotional wellbeing and more serious health conditions
Over time, the increasing symptoms of irreversible hearing loss can also seriously affect your emotional wellbeing, including:
- Annoyance and frustration at missing parts of a conversation.
- Guilt and embarrassment at misunderstandings.
- Feeling increasingly depressed, anxious and isolated.
You may already rely on wearing a hearing aid to help with an increasing loss to your hearing. However, more serious health conditions are also linked to ‘untreated’ hearing loss, include:
- Heart disease
Industries known for work related deafness
Industrial deafness compensation claims tend to be made by people working in:
- Heavy engineering and foundries.
- Food production and processing plants.
- Factory assembly lines.
- Road and railway building and maintenance.
- Mining and quarries.
- Concrete manufacturers.
- Vehicle manufacture and repair.
All are examples of a working environment where noise levels can reach exposure limit values. The resulting onset of industrial deafness can be often caused by a failure to issue ear defenders – vital protective equipment to safeguard against damaging noise levels.
Increasingly, occupational deafness and hearing loss in the workplace are not limited to heavy industry and manufacturing. Hearing loss claims are increasingly made by people working in:
- Bars and nightclubs.
- Classical concert venues.
- Nursery schools.
- Farming and agriculture.
- Armed forces.
- Open plan offices.
- Call centres.
A hearing problem caused at work?
You may have strong grounds to pursue a hearing loss claim if you or a family member are:
- Exposed to constant levels of excessive noise at your workplace.
- Experiencing ‘muffled’ hearing or temporary hearing loss.
- Suffer occasional tinnitus or episodes of severe tinnitus.
Your employer has a legal obligation to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees from the risk of personal injury. This includes carrying out Risk Assessments and whatever is “reasonably practicable” to protect workers, and reduce risk of harm in your workplace.
This includes taking adequate steps to reduce the risk of damage to your hearing. If you believe your employer failed in their legal duty to protect you from suffering hearing loss, you may have a case to make a hearing loss compensation claim.
Speak now to our partners who provide specialist industrial deafness solicitors to start your industrial claims procedure. Call 0800 234 6438
Damaging Noise Levels and Time Limits
Damage can very easily occur to the microscopic hair cells that respond to different sound frequencies, and which line the cochlea – the hollow, spiral-shaped bone of the inner ear.
The healthy human ear can pick up frequencies ranging from 20Hz to 20,000 Hz. The average person can hear sounds of around 0 decibels (dB). If a sound reaches 85 dB or louder, it can cause permanent damage. Many everyday sounds, often experienced in the workplace may be louder.
Typically, a bulldozer that is idling only and not in active operation, is still loud enough at 85 dB to cause permanent damage after only 1 working day (8 hours).
Decibel Exposure Time
Accepted standards for permissible exposure time for continuous average noise levels.
For every 3 dBs over 85dB, the permissible exposure time before possible damage can occur reduces by one half.
Continuous dB Permissible Exposure Time
- 85 8 hours
- 88 4 hours
- 91 2 hours
- 94 1 hour
- 97 30 minutes
- 100 15 minutes
- 103 7.5 minutes
- 106 3.75 min
- 109 1.875 min
- 112 Less than 1 min
- 115 Less than 30 secs
Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005
Risk Assessments for Noise Levels
Under the Regulations employers must carry out risk assessments and measure noise levels within their premises. This must be followed up by appropriate prevention and protection actions, to be carried out where necessary.
The Regulations require employers to:
Assess the risks to their employees from noise at work.
Take action to reduce exposure to the noise posing the risks.
Provide their employees with hearing protection if noise exposure levels cannot be adequately reduced.
Ensure the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded.
Provide their employees with information, instruction and training.
Carry out health monitoring where there is a risk to health.
The Regulations set out the following noise levels within the working environment:
Daily noise exposure – the TWO action values are set at 85dB(A) and 80dB(A).
Peak noise – the TWO action values set at 135dB(C) and 137dB(C).
Exposure limit values – set at 87dB(A) (daily exposure) – and – 140dB(C) (peak noise) – takes into account the effect of wearing hearing protective equipment.
The cause of hearing loss can also be the result of an acoustic trauma.
This is exposure to a sudden high-decibel noise that causes an injury to the inner ear, such as rupture of the eardrum. It may also be caused by ongoing exposure to excessively loud noise.
An acoustic trauma can damage the way the eardrum transmits sound vibrations, resulting in hearing loss caused by a ‘threshold shift’ – where only sounds louder than a certain level will be heard.
Showing Employer Negligence
Success in pursuing a compensation claim for industrial deafness depends upon showing your employer breached their duty of care in the workplace.
You will have good grounds for your hearing loss claim if you can show all THREE of the following:
- Your employer was negligent.
- Your hearing was damaged as a direct result of your employer’s negligence.
- Your hearing problems were diagnosed within the last 3 years.
To successfully claim compensation for hearing loss caused by employer negligence you need to show they failed to:
- Monitor levels of noise in the workplace.
- Provider ear defenders or similar protective equipment despite knowing levels of noise were excessive.
- Carry out a risk assessment of the potential harm to your hearing despite raising your concerns.
- Consider using less noisy equipment.
- Consider soundproofing or similar noise-reducing actions.
You will also need to visit a qualified medical professional and obtain a formal diagnosis of your industrial deafness and/or tinnitus. An official medical report detailing the extent of your injury will be required to support your claim for hearing loss compensation.
Audiometry / Audiogram Test
An audiogram may also be recommended to prove the cause of your industrial deafness, and show whether it was a noise induced hearing loss. An audiometry test measures a person’s ability to hear different sounds, pitches, or frequencies. Pure tones of a specific frequency and volume are delivered to one ear at a time via headphones.
Have I a case for making an industrial deafness claim?
If you feel your hearing loss, industrial deafness or tinnitus was directly caused by:
Exposure to excessive noise in the workplace
Your employer breaching safety regulations in any way
– you may have good grounds to pursue your hearing loss claim for industrial deafness.
How do I start my industrial deafness claim?
It’s important to speak with a “No Win No Fee” personal injury solicitor who will be able to advise you on how to take your case forward.
An industrial deafness claim for noise induced hearing loss tends to be classed under industrial disease claims.
Personal injury claims directly related to the workplace, such as industrial deafness claims or tinnitus compensation claims are handled by specialist solicitors dedicated to noise induced hearing loss.
No Win No Fee Solicitor
Under ‘No Fee, No Win’ you are able to claim for hearing loss with:
- No financial risk
- No payment of solicitor’s fees upfront
If your ‘no win no fee’ claim is successful –
You will only be required to pay a solicitors ‘success fee’ of 25 per cent but the other party will pay most of your legal costs. Any remaining costs are deducted from your final compensation award, which you will be given advance notification.
If your case is unsuccessful –
You will not have to pay any legal fees – either to your own solicitor or to the other party.