This week is UK Tinnitus Week, which aims to raise awareness of an extremely disabling condition which affects around 6 million people across the United Kingdom. Tinnitus is a ringing, buzzing, hissing or whistling noise in the ears which many of us will have experienced after attending loud gigs or nightclubs. Luckily, this is usually short lived but unfortunately there is no cure once tinnitus becomes permanent.
Action on Hearing Loss have said this week that people who attend club nights or concerts should wear ear plugs to prevent developing tinnitus. They have pointed out that young people are particularly at risk from damage to their hearing and are probably unaware that the noise levels they are being exposed to could lead to permanent tinnitus. In music venues, noise levels are often over 100dB which means that exposure for only around 15 minutes could cause damage.
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 set out the legal limits of noise that employees can be exposed to without wearing hearing protection. If a worker is exposed to daily noise levels above 85dB, then they must be provided with hearing protection by their employer. However there are no such laws or regulations to protect people who are exposed to noise in their spare time – we must look out for ourselves.
Thompsons regularly represent clients who have been exposed to excessive levels of noise at work and we have first-hand experience of the potentially devastating effect of tinnitus. The condition can prevent sleep and have a significant impact on the mental health of sufferers. It has been associated with suicide; notably the drummer of rock band Inspiral Carpets is thought to have taken his own life in 2017 as a result of the condition.
Tinnitus is also often accompanied by noise induced hearing loss, requiring workers to need hearing aids at a much younger age than they otherwise would of. Many people find this embarrassing and feel forced to shell out significant sums for small, discrete hearing aids privately.
No one would want to find themselves in this situation. Yet as many venues now offer free ear plugs and with plugs available which are specially designed for use with loud music, there is really no excuse not to protect your ears from exposure to noise in your spare time. However if you have been exposed to noise at work and think you have developed hearing loss or tinnitus as a result, Talk to Thompsons Solicitors on 0800 089 1331 as soon as possible.
Blog by Claire Campbell