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Work Deafness Claim

The Risk of Work Deafness in the UK

In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has estimated that over a million workers are exposed to dangerous levels of noise in the workplace. This exposure to high levels of noise is responsible for more than eighty thousand workplace hearing injuries diagnosed each year and the HSE acknowledges that tens of thousands more complaints may go untreated.

Work deafness in the UK is classified as an industrial disease, and falls into one of four categories – mild, moderate, severe or profound. Most often caused by prolonged exposed to a high level of sound or a sudden acoustic shock, the most common work deafness injury is tinnitus — a permanent ringing or whistling in the ears — but many UK work deafness injuries manifest as temporary deafness (when normal audio facility returns a short time after the exposure has ceased) which, without prompt treatment, can deteriorate into a permanent condition.

Qualifying for a Work Deafness Claim

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations came into effect in 2006, and state that employers must provide hearing protection and hearing protection zones in any work environment where the average exposure to noise is greater than 85 decibels (there is an upper maximum limit of 87 decibels). However the level at which employers must assess the risk to workers’ health, and provide them with information and training to avoid a work deafness injury, is set at 80 decibels.

It is important to be aware that the regulations only permit hearing protection as a temporary measure against work deafness, and they state that the employer should make every reasonable effort to reduce the employee’s exposure to noise below the 80 decibel level. Furthermore, where that level cannot be achieved, workers at risk from work deafness injury should be included in a health surveillance program to monitor the progression of hearing loss and provide feedback on the effectiveness of hearing protection. Should your employer fail to adhere to these regulations, and you suffer a loss of your hearing as a result (even a temporary loss), you are entitled to make a work deafness claim.

Before Making a Work Deafness Claim

Except for circumstances in which you have been exposed to a sudden loud noise, it is unusual to acknowledge a work deafness injury straightaway. Most people who sustain work deafness believe that the aging process is responsible for their increased difficulty in following conversations or having to turn up the television. In fact, it is because the inner ear has sustained a level of damage, and is sending faulty signals to the receptors in your brain.

  • Visit an Audiologist — Whereas your family GP can diagnose that you may have a problem with your hearing, it is unlikely that he will be able to directly ascribe it to your work environment with any certainty. Audiologists can determine whether hearing loss is attributable to an exposure to noise by testing sensitivity to certain sounds and particular frequencies of sound.
  • Write a Report — A report of your work deafness injury should be recorded in your employer´s “Accident Report Book”, which in turn will be forwarded to the Health and Safety Executive who will instigate an investigation into the work practices engaged by your employer. Their findings will support your work deafness claim when your employer is found to be negligent.
  • Make Notes — Wherever possible, make notes about the times, and length of time, at which you were exposed to high levels of noise. Speak with colleagues about their hearing and if they feel that they have a problem with work deafness and list all the information and training you were giving in relation to the risks of work deafness.
  • Consult with a Solicitor — As soon as you have been diagnosed with a work deafness injury, you should consult a solicitor about your options. If no health and Safety Executive investigation is immediately forthcoming, your solicitor will organise sound level measurements and speak with your work colleagues to collect the evidence that is required to make a successful work deafness claim.

Some people are apprehensive about making a work deafness claim against an employer for fear that it will damage a strong working relationship or hinder future employment practices – this is one of the reasons that the HSE believes tens of thousands work deafness injuries go untreated every year. Most employers will actually be aghast that their negligence has caused a loss of hearing, and may often discuss compensation payments with their public liability insurance company before a work deafness claim is made.

Free Work Deafness Claim Advice

If you have sustained a loss of hearing, which has been diagnosed as a work deafness injury due to the negligence of an employer, you are invited to call our free work injury claims advice service. Our service enables you (or a family member is your work deafness injury is permanent) to discuss a work deafness claim with an experienced solicitor and receive some helpful and practical advice.

You should not accept any early settlement of a work deafness claim without first speaking with a solicitor, for although your employer may be well-meaning in his intentions, insurance companies rarely are! You could find yourself undercompensated if you agree to an offer without taking professional advice. Our service is completely confidential, and you are under no obligation to proceed with a work deafness claim once you have spoken with us.