Preventing Industrial Deafness
Industrial deafness can sometimes be permanent, and can cause sufferers great difficulties in their daily lives, so taking steps to prevent industrial deafness should be a priority for employers who operate in a noisy environment.
A noisy working environment can be loosely described as one where an employee has to raise their voice so that someone two metres away can hear them.
This page looks at the simple steps employers can take to reduce the risks of industrial deafness, and the legal rights of injured employees claiming industrial deafness compensation.
How to prevent industrial deafness
Under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 1995, employers have a duty to provide their workers with all necessary safety training, equipment and clothing to ensure that wherever possible their work does not cause them harm.
Preventing industrial deafness is an ongoing process for any loud environment, and precautions include earplugs or headsets for staff who may be at risk. It is also vital for employers to carry out regular risk assessments and to train and advise employees themselves on how to prevent industrial deafness.
Am I at risk?
Relatively high-risk industries include construction, agriculture and manufacturing. Other high-risk groups includes anyone who works in an environment where noise is 'intrusive' for most of the working day - for example, someone using a vacuum cleaner, or those using power tools for more than an half an hour a day.
Employees' responsibilities in preventing industrial deafness
Employers can help with preventing industrial deafness simply by providing earplugs and earmuffs the necessary precautions and by educating workers on how to prevent industrial deafness and on the risks loud or continuous noise can have to their health.
However, studies show that, despite training and proper safety equipment, employees often choose not to wear protection devices due to comfort issues, embarrassment or simply not wanting their hearing to be impaired by ear protection while they work. It is, however, an employee's responsibility to make use of the training and safety measures provided to them.
Industrial deafness compensation
As with other industrial accident claims, where an employer has ignored their responsibilities, and an employee has suffered hearing damage as a result, the employee may be able to claim industrial deafness compensation.
Claiming industrial deafness compensation won't repair the damage that's been done to your ears, but it can help cover the costs of any medical treatment you've had to pay for, or may need in future.