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Hearing Loss

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Loss of hearing due to Negligence of Workplace Practices

Hearing loss is a common problem that develops with age. This can be defined as a partial or total inability to hear in one or both ears. Even if your hearing is impaired due to age or hereditary reasons, noise-induced hearing loss can worsen the condition.

General signs that your hearing has become impaired OR you are at risk are:

  • Temporary deafness after leaving a noisy work environment
  • Misunderstanding what others are saying
  • Difficulty in hearing things clearly
  • Having to ask others to repeat themselves
  • Inability to keep up with conversation in a group
  • Needing the volume of music and television turned up higher than others need them to be.
  • Tinnitus – buzzing in your ears

If you are concerned about your hearing, you should discuss it with your GP as soon as you can.

Whilst there are many devices available such as hearing aids and implants which can enhance impaired hearing, hearing is not something that will repair.

Main Causes Hearing Loss at Work

One of the main causes is exposure to loud noise, particularly suffered in the workplace. Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is one of the main industrial illnesses suffered. Many workers in the UK have been exposed to levels of noise at work which could be harmful. This can have a devastating effect on people’s lives.

An estimated 15,000 people working suffered from NIHL during the last year.

The Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) scheme allows employees to claim benefit for an accident or disease caused by work or participation in a training course.

The main industries claimants work in are:

Essentially, those more at risk are those who work in the same environment as loud machinery.

Employees Responsibilities

Employees by law must be able to take reasonable care of themselves and others around them who are impacted by their actions. Therefore, any healthy and safety measures put in place by your employer should be followed.

It is an employee’s responsibility to take reasonable care of themselves and others affected by their actions. All training given should be adhered to and health and safety procedures followed. This includes wearing any mandatory PPE that is required for a task.

Employers Responsibilities

In April 2006, the ‘Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005’ came into effect to protect the hearing of employees but there has been a legal framework in place specifically regarding noise at work since the 1960s. This ensures that by law, employers must assess and identify measures that reduce or totally eliminate risks from exposure to noise.

1. Identifying risk and carrying out regular assessments

Regular risk assessments should be done by someone who is trained and competent to do the task and the assessment is based on advice from those who are competent to provide it.

Low risk – If the risk of exposure is low, actions taken will often be inexpensive and simple.
High risk – Where exposure to noise is high, a noise-control action plan should be put in place as a matter of high importance.

It should be identified who is at risk, their level of exposure and for how long, ability to hear warnings and what equipment is being used. If conditions change, the environment should be re-assessed.

2. Providing hearing protection where necessary

Employers should provide suitable personal protective equipment to employees who may be exposed to risks to their health and safety where such risks cannot be adequately controlled. Hearing protection should not only be provided but employers should ensure it is used.

3. Reducing or eliminating loud noises where possible and ensuring other noise controls are implemented

Examples would be:

  • Regular risk assessments should be carried out to identify any risks to employee health and safety
  • Staff should be made aware where there is a risk identified and the risk eliminated or reduced immediately if possible
  • Any other risks should have a detailed prioritised action plan in place

2. Provide a safe working environment

  • Limiting the length of time staff spend in noisy areas, with separate quiet areas
  • Designing the workflow to ensure loud machinery is kept away from areas where most people spend their time
  • Replacing the loud equipment or tools with something less noisy
  • Introducing enclosures, screens, barriers or distance around machines to reduce how far noise travels
  • Introducing a low-noise purchasing policy
  • Regular maintenance of machinery to prevent deterioration

4. Providing training and information about noise exposure

Policies and training should be in place for all staff to help with the implementation of such health and safety procedures.

Can I Make a Claim?

If you think you have suffered from noise-induced hearing loss as a result of working in a noisy environment, you may be eligible for compensation. You need to claim within 3 years of realising this could be the case. As a result of the laws brought in the 1960s, no employee should suffer from any hearing impairment as a result of their working conditions. If you feel your employer may be at fault and did not provide the suitable controls to allow a safe working environment with noise then we would like to hear from you. This may include ex employers, a combination of employers or even firms that are no longer in business. Wherever there is a case, we can pursue compensation from a combination of employers, still in business or not.

TALK TO INJURY LAWYERS UK TODAY

If you want to know if you’re in a position to make a claim for hearing loss contact Injury Lawyers UK on 0800 285 1411 today or fill out an online enquiry form. We’ll be happy to provide you with the advice you need to pursue any action, and work with you to secure the compensation you deserve.

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