What is Industrial Deafness?

The HSE estimates that 11,000 workers in the UK between 2019 and 2022 have work-related hearing problems, with men comprising most cases. industrial deafness, also known as occupational deafness or noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), is caused by exposure to noise at work. The UK Government categorises industrial deafness as hearing loss in one or both ears of 50dB or more as a result of working in an environment for over ten years where specific tools and machinery are likely to cause deafness. Occupations that are at risk from this condition include the following:

  • Transport
  • The Armed Forces (RAF, Navy, Army etc.)
  • Construction
  • Factories
  • Hospitality (Nightclubs, pubs and bars)
  • Call centres and telemarketers

Essentially any job where noise levels are continuously high puts workers at risk of hearing loss, and this list is by no means comprehensive.

It is important to remember that the responsibility to minimise the impact of noise on employees’ health rests with the employer. As a result, if they have failed to take adequate steps to prevent hearing loss, you can make an industrial deafness claim for compensation.

Types of Industrial Deafness

Multiple conditions fall under the category of industrial deafness. These include:

  • Tinnitus: The NHS classifies this condition as hearing a sound that appears to come from inside a person’s body. Some describe it as a ‘ringing in the ears’, although some hear a buzzing, humming, grinding, hissing or whistling sound. It is a continuous sound; for some, it can lead to issues with concentration, insomnia and depression.
  • Acoustic Shock: This condition happens when a sudden loud noise occurs, from an explosion to feedback through headphones. Sufferers from this condition can perforate their eardrums, leading to permanent hearing problems. The HSE specifically connects it to short, high-frequency and intense bursts of sound through a headset. Although most headphones are limited now to 118dB, some older headsets are not.
  • Temporary hearing loss results from exposure to loud noises and can last anywhere from 16 to 48 hours when partial or total hearing returns. Sufferers might notice it immediately or have it develop over several hours. Research shows that this condition can be a precursor to permanent hearing loss, and although it is only temporary, it can result in significant long-term damage.
  • Permanent hearing loss takes many years of exposure to a high level of noise without protection to develop. Although some use hearing aids or undergo surgery for cochlear implants to improve hearing, in severe cases, they become profoundly deaf. Consequently, they must learn to use sign language or lip reading to navigate the world.

Symptoms of Industrial Deafness

Hearing loss does not happen overnight; it is a gradual process that many don’t notice until it is too late. If you have any of the following symptoms of hearing loss in one or both ears after exposure to high levels of noise as a result of your occupation, you may have industrial deafness and be able to make a claim:

  • Temporary loss of hearing
  • Issues with following conversations or asking people to repeat themselves, especially with background noise
  • Turning the volume up on the radio or television louder than it needs to be to hear it
  • Inability to hear specific frequencies.
  • Difficulty hearing familiar sounds like someone knocking on the door or a telephone ringing/
  • Difficulty identifying where a sound is coming from
  • Feeling tired, frustrated or anxious about having to concentrate whilst listening
  • Signs of tinnitus
  • Permanent hearing loss

We cannot understate that the challenges of living with industrial hearing loss can be profound and impact your mental and physical health. Before making a claim, it is essential to have your condition diagnosed by a doctor and that they find a link between your hearing loss and your occupation.

Can I claim?

Claiming compensation for industrial deafness requires that we show that your employer breached their duty of care and that they were not taking the necessary steps to protect your health and safety. We need to prove that:

  • Your employer was negligent; and
  • That it was their negligence that led to your hearing loss.
  • That A doctor diagnosed your hearing problems within the last three years.

The types of negligence that allow you to claim compensation from your employer include:

  • Failing to monitor noise levels and take appropriate action.
  • Failing to provide safety equipment such as ear defenders or in-ear plugs.
  • Failing to carry out an adequate risk assessment following concerns about your hearing loss.
  • Failing to make attempts to replace noisy equipment with less noisy alternatives.
  • Failing to employ noise-reducing strategies to protect workers from hearing loss.

If a doctor has diagnosed your hearing loss as industrial deafness and your employer has failed to take the steps listed above, then you may be entitled to claim compensation.

Why Waldrons

At Waldrons Solicitors, we understand the impact of hearing loss on your life and the additional devastation suffered when it is not your fault, which is why we operate on a no-win, no-fee basis. Our personal injury department was ranked in the legal directory, Chambers & Partners 2023, for their expertise and client support, having already secured millions of pounds in compensation for victims of harm in the workplace, including for people living with industrial deafness. Using this wealth of experience, they will guide you through the process and advocate for you to negotiate the best settlement possible.

Typically, personal injury claims have a strict time limit of three years, so getting in touch as soon as possible by phone or filling in the form below is essential. We promise there’ll be no hard sell, and your first call is cost-free, with no obligation to pursue your claim with us.

Contact Waldrons solicitors

Whatever your query, get in touch with us here at Waldrons today.

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Last reviewed on 11/07/23 by Joseph Norton who is a Director and Head of Compensation