Industrial deafness is an outdated term, but the fact of hearing loss caused by loud noises at work is still a dreadful burden for too many workers. Time was, back in the heavy UK manufacturing heyday, that hearing loss could creep into workers heads unnoticed. All the day long crashing and banging of heavy machinery was bound to take a toll.
Then we learned how our sense of hearing works and how easily broken it is. And once broken it cannot be healed. The only recourse was compensation from employers to whom workers sacrificed that most precious of senses. ‘No win no fee’ legal cases are still the only way to improve the quality of life of workers who lose their hearing at work.
As technology has evolved over the years, so have the dangers to worker’s hearing. One may imagine that a call centre operative has a safe, comfortable job. But there is a hazard becoming more common with each year that passes by. ‘Acoustic shock’, from screeching electronics or shouting angry customers is funnelled and focussed through earphones.
Unendurable decibels of sound waves travel in a fraction of a second along a call centre employee’s ear chamber to break through the eardrum and continue as tidal waves of vibration in the fluid of the ear canals. Waving like reeds in water are microscopic, ultra-sensitive hairs, which pick up sound and transform it into electronic signals for the brain to interpret. The tsunami that is acoustic shock snaps these hairs or bends them irreparably. It can happen in an instant and lasts a lifetime. If it happens to you, you need to claim for compensation and hire a no win no fee solicitor to represent you.
Turning down The Volume at Work Is Not Always Possible
We would all be wise to turn down the volume of our mobiles and iPods when listening through earphones. And it is a wise parent who insists on their children wearing protective ear-plugs at every pop concert, because hearing loss is not confined to the workplace.
Acoustic shock and loud noises are an inescapable part of the working environment, it seems. But it is a legal requirement on every employer to assess the risks and take every reasonable action to mitigate against those risks. When they fail to do so and people lose their hearing the last resort is the law. If you believe you may have suffered hearing loss at work, you must first report it to your employer and then consult a ‘no win no fee’ legal adviser to help bring them to account and gain compensation for yourself.
Thirteen years ago BT paid out ninety thousand pounds in compensation to their first sufferer of acoustic. There have been many more cases since that first one. Another BT worker received an undisclosed amount of compensation (it was reported to be a five figure sum), when the tinnitus they contracted through acoustic shock forced them out of the job.
Hearing loss and or problems such as tinnitus are not the only effects of acoustic shock. There is the initial ‘startle reflex’ that takes a long time to return to normal. Then there is anxiety, stress, lethargy, earache, headaches and soreness of the ear and a stiff neck.
The level of compensation you can receive from a claim for work related deafness will be greater, the greater is your hearing deprivation. Your age and previous hearing acuteness are also factors to be considered. However it is only money and no amount can bring back that most precious of senses. But it helps, especially if you can no longer work and earn as much income as you could previously.
There is a second and perhaps more important reason to seek out a ‘no win no fee’ legal advisor. That is to keep up the pressure on employers to invest in research to find ways to protect new employees from the dangers of excessive noise in the work place.