Industrial deafness also referred to as noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), is a form of industrial injury in which damage is gradually caused to a person’s hearing as a result of consistent and repeated exposure to excessive noise at work.
Noise induced hearing loss is more commonly found in those who work in typically noisy industries or environments such as steel works, foundries, construction, mining and manufacturing. It is also more common in those who worked during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s when legislation and guidance designed to protect an employee’s hearing at work were not always properly understood or strictly adhered to.
Exposure to excessively loud noise can overstimulate hair cells in the ear. Where this exposure occurs over a long period of time, the hair cells become damaged, affecting their ability to pick up the various frequencies that are then transmitted to our brains and translated into sound.
Signs and symptoms of noise induced hearing loss (NIHL)
The signs and symptoms of noise induced hearing Loss include:
- loss of hearing generally – everything seems to be at a reduced volume
- difficulty hearing speech, particularly in environments with a lot of background noise such as bars or restaurants
- distortion or difficulty hearing parts of words – consonants are usually spoken at a higher pitch than vowels,and damage to the hair cells in the ear more commonly affects the ability to hear higher frequencies, thus affecting the ability to hear all of the parts of a person’s speech
- tinnitus – a ringing sound in the ear. This can be transient but recurring, or permanent
- hyperacusis – sensitivity to certain sounds, such as high-pitched or loud noises.
These symptoms can affect one or both ears. Sadly, a person’s hearing cannot be restored once it has been damaged. While hearing aids may help with the affects of some of the above symptoms, the help they provide is limited and is of no benefit for many of these symptoms.
Those who are suffering with noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) often believe that their symptoms are as a result of their age, and therefore never explore the cause of their hearing loss further or seek the measures with their employer that would help prevent further damage to their hearing.
While hearing does deteriorate with age, there is often an overlap between the two causes. As part of your claim, we will instruct an independent medical expert who will be able to assess your hearing and calculate what proportion of your hearing loss has been caused naturally through ageing, and how much has been caused by exposure to loud noise.
All employers have a responsibility to protect employees, contractors and visitors from being exposed to loud noise at work by having safe working practices and supplying personal protective equipment (PPE) such as ear defenders.
In most Industrial Deafness claims the claim for compensation is made against the company’s Employers’ Liability Insurance, and not against the business itself. Even if your former employer is no longer trading, it is still possible to locate their old insurance company and pursue the insurance company directly.
It is also possible to pursue more than one former employer if you have been exposed to excessive noise across multiple jobs, employers or building sites.
Time limit to bring a compensation claim
It is important to note that most industrial deafness or noise induced hearing loss compensation claims should be brought within three years of the date of knowledge. The date of knowledge is generally the date from which you first realised or suspected that your symptoms were related to exposure to loud noise at work, or when it would have been reasonable to make the connection between the symptoms and the noise you were exposed to. This can be a tricky part of industrial deafness compensation claims, but a member of our team will happily be able to advise you further on when your “date of knowledge” is likely to have been.
Other types of hearing injuries related to exposure to inappropriate noise levels in the work place include acoustic shock and tinnitus.
If you or a loved one has suffered hearing loss and believe it could be as a result of exposure to loud noise at work then you may have a noise induced hearing loss or industrial deafness compensation claim. Please speak to our Industrial Deafness lawyers on Freephone: 0808 164 0808 for a FREE, no obligation chat. Alternatively, you can complete the request a call back form and we will call you.