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Occupational exposure to noise is a significant cause of hearing impairment and disability.

In the early 1980s approximately 600,000 workers in the British manufacturing industry were regularly exposed to substantial levels of noise. More recently, 11% of employed men and 6% of employed women who took part in a large community survey reported that they had to raise their voice to be heard in the workplace.

Another 3% of men and 2% of women claimed they left work with temporary deafness and ringing in their ears every day.

Industrial deafness is caused by exposure to excessive noise in the workplace. Under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 employers are required to protect the health and safety of employees by effectively reducing exposure to noise.

If your employer has failed to complete risk assessments, to provide personal protective equipment or to remove you from hazardous environments, you may be entitled to claim compensation for your hearing loss.

Occupations with higher than usual rates of industrial deafness include construction, ship building, entertainment, mining, engineering and the military.

There are four main types of industrial deafness. They are as follows:

  • Temporary hearing loss
  • Acoustic shock
  • Tinnitus
  • Permanent hearing loss


Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

In 2017 there were 70 new claims for work-related deafness made under the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) scheme. There has been a noticeable decline in such claims over the past decade.

Interestingly, there is a marked gender disparity in the number of new claims for work-related deafness. For example, between 2008 to 2017 there were 1,395 new IIDB work-related deafness claims, just ten of these were made by women.This is likely to be because women make up just a small proportion of workers in the most noise-hazardous sectors. These include the following:

  • Construction
  • Forestry
  • Road work
  • Stonemasonry
  • Heavy machinery work

Who is at risk?

You could be at risk of industrial deafness if your work involves:

  • Pneumatic tools
  • Drilling
  • Chainsaws
  • Explosions or guns
  • Hammering
  • Bowl choppers
  • Baggers, cutters and wrappers
  • Wheeled trolleys
  • Regular exposure to noisy machinery

As can be seen from the list above, workers in the construction, woodworking, engineering, textile, paper-making, canning and bottling and demolitions industries are at particular risk.

Furthermore, those in the food and drink, bakery, dairy and confectionary industries are also frequently exposed to noise levels exceeding the 80dB(A) and 85dB(A) levels at which employers are required to take action under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.

Employers have particular duties to protect the hearing of workers and employees. These are now found in the Noise at Work Regulations 2005, which tightened the duties on employers to prevent exposure to noise.  The Noise Regulations set out "action levels" – particular noise levels at which action must be taken.

Am I suffering from a type of permanent industrial deafness?

Irreversible hearing loss takes two main forms:

  • Persistent tinnitus - this is a condition whereby the sufferer experiences noises in the ears such as ringing, whistling, humming, and buzzing. In extreme cases this is permanent and can be very distressing, causing the sufferer disturbed sleep along with symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Noise induced deafness – this normally involves gradual loss of hearing over long periods of exposure, often many years. It is permanent and, coupled with the effects of the natural aging process, can cause a significant disability.

Permanent hearing loss can also be caused by ‘acoustic trauma' or ‘acoustic shock'. Typically it's caused by a sudden, very loud noise, such as an explosion or gunshot. The noise can seriously harm unprotected ears.

Call centre workers are at particular risk of acoustic trauma, especially if the person on the other end of the line is shouting or if there is loud feedback in a malfunctioning headset.

Hearing loss compensation claims 

If employers do not protect workers from noise, and you develop hearing problems as a result, you could be entitled to compensation.

Our specialist industrial disease solicitors have secured compensation for many people who have suffered injury caused by their exposure to elevated noise levels at work. 

Call us on 0800 0891 331 and take your first step towards compensation.

Industrial deafness- jobs and trades putting workers at risk

According to the UK Labour Force Survey, an estimated 15,000 people sustained new or worse industrial deafness during 2015. This means that there are around 48 cases of industrial deafness recorded per 100,000 workers in the UK.

Although these statistics represent a significant improvement on the 68 cases per 100,000 that were recorded a decade earlier, it is clear that employers and legislators can and should be doing more to improve the rate of noise induced hearing loss in Scotland and the wider UK.

Claim Compensation for Hearing Damage Caused by Workplace Conditions

Employers in all occupations and industries have an obligation to reduce the risk of employees sustaining hearing damage, whether tinnitus, acoustic shock or industrial deafness.

If you have been diagnosed with occupational hearing loss and believe that there is evidence of poor compliance with health and safety regulations in your current or former workplace, you may be entitled to compensation.

How much could you claim?  Call 0800 0891 331 for free legal advice from Thompsons, Scotland's leading personal injury firm.

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