According to the Action on Hearing Loss charity, around 1 in 6 people across the UK experience problems with their hearing, amounting to nearly 10 million people.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report from September last year suggests that approximately 18,000 of these people are suffering from noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) caused or worsened by their working environment.
Regular exposure to loud noises can cause irreversible damage to the cochlea, which is a vital part of your inner ear. This is also known as sensorineural hearing loss.
Because it can take several years for the symptoms of hearing loss to appear, it is vital that you know the risks now so you can protect yourself. Your employer has an obligation to do this under the Control of Noise at Work regulations 2005, but sadly in some cases businesses fail to do so and this can have a life-changing effect on workers.
What you should look out for
The key here is to be aware of intrusive noise. For example, if you need to raise your voice for colleagues to hear you, it is possible that the noise level could eventually damage your hearing.
HSE guidelines indicate that using high-powered tools (e.g. pneumatic drills, hammers) for longer than half an hour a day could also put you at risk.
As a worker, you will be well aware if you are regularly exposed to a noisy environment. The most at-risk areas in this regard include:
- Factories and construction sites, where noisy machinery is regularly used
- Nightclubs, where loud music is of course a constant feature
Your employer should provide you with adequate ear protection in these cases, while they could also ensure you are not working with noisy machinery for prolonged periods each day. Additionally, they should act on any concerns you raise with them.
Don’t ignore your hearing loss
The NHS goes to great lengths to urge people not to ignore the symptoms of hearing loss, such as being unable to follow conversations or needing to turn the television up to a high volume.
Many people find it difficult to accept that they are losing their hearing. While this can prevent them from seeking medical help, it can also mean they are missing out on the practical financial assistance they might be eligible for.
At Croftons Solicitors, we work with our clients to help them make a claim against the employer who is responsible for their noise-induced hearing loss. If you would like to speak to us about your case, call the team today on 0800 02800 094 or fill in the enquiry form on this page.
Claims are eligible for up to three years after you are diagnosed, so even if you do not find out about your condition until later in life, it is still possible to make a claim.