Introduction to Hearing Loss Compensation
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 that potentially results in hearing loss. This exposure to high levels of noise is responsible for more than eighty thousand workplace hearing injuries being diagnosed each year, and the HSE acknowledges that tens of thousands more complaints may go untreated.
Workplace hearing loss in the UK is classified as industrial diseases, and fall into four categories – mild, moderate, severe or profound. Often caused by prolonged exposure to a high level of sound or a sudden acoustic shock, the most common UK workplace hearing injury is tinnitus – a permanent ringing or whistling in the ears – but many workplace hearing 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.
Responsibility for Preventing Workplace Hearing Injuries
With the introduction of the Factories Act of 1963, and more recently the Control of Noise at Work Regulations (2005), stricter controls were placed on the level of noise in the work environment and more limits were imposed on the length of time an employee should be exposed to excessive noise. Where high levels of noise cannot be avoided, suitable protection should be provided – but only as a temporary measure – and failure to do so can result in an employer being liable for a hearing injury compensation claim.
An employer has total responsibility for ensuring that these measures are implemented to prevent the risk of work hearing injury. Employers are also obliged to train employees and their supervisors about how and when they should work in a noisy environment, and advise them of the risks they are taking by doing so. Audiology tests should be provided to ensure that employees are not suffering from workplace hearing injuries, and when they are, a rotation of duties should be implemented to enable the hearing injury to heal and eliminate further risk.
The Process after Sustaining a Workplace Hearing Injury
Except for circumstances where you have been exposed to a sudden loud noise, it is unusual to acknowledge a workplace hearing injury straightaway. Most people who have a workplace hearing injury 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. Audiologists can determine whether hearing loss is attributable to an exposure to noise by testing sensitivity to certain sounds and particular frequencies.
If, as the result of a health surveillance program or a visit to your GP, you are diagnosed with a workplace hearing injury, you should report this to your employer and ensure that a report is made in your employer’s “Accident Report Book”. Irrespective of whether you workplace hearing injury is anticipated to heal, or you are re-assigned to a job which does not expose you to high levels of noise, you should also speak with a solicitor about making a hearing injury compensation claim.
Making a Hearing Injury Compensation Claim
To qualify for workplace hearing injury compensation, you must have sustained an injury (as diagnosed by your doctor), and that injury must have been caused by the negligence or lack of care of your employer. It is likely that if you have suffered a workplace hearing injury, colleagues in the company for which you work should have similar injuries, and the success of your workplace hearing injury claim may depend on evidence supplied by your workmates.
Your solicitor will give you a clearer indication of what is required to build the strongest possible claim for workplace hearing injury compensation and, while he does that, you should be conscious of approaches from your employer’s insurance company with an offer of early settlement for your claim. This “third party capture” as it is known, is designed to save the insurance company money and may result in you receiving an inadequate amount of workplace hearing injury compensation.
No Win, No Fee Hearing Injury Compensation
If you have been diagnosed with a workplace hearing injury, and would like to find out more about your entitlement to hearing injury compensation, you to speak directly with an experienced solicitor and discuss the circumstances surrounding your hearing injury claim. You will be able to establish that you have a hearing injury compensation claim which it is worth your while to pursue, without obligation on you to do so and in total confidentiality.