Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), also known as Industrial Deafness, is the result of damage to your hearing from excessive noise. It is a common condition suffered by many thousands of people who work in noisy environments.
Noise levels in certain workplaces can exceed a safe level and in these situations an employer owes a duty of care to their employees and, by law, should protect their hearing by supplying hearing protection. Noise Induced Hearing Loss develops over a long period of time, sometimes decades, meaning the majority of people assume their hearing is getting worse due to ageing and not from their past or present exposure to noise at work.
NIHL is damage to the cells of the inner ear caused by noise. When sound enters the ear it causes the eardrum to vibrate. These vibrations are then transferred to the delicate inner ear cells, and the brain translates the vibrations into sound. If the vibrations entering the ear are too powerful they will permanently damage the fragile structure of the inner ear cells. The damage caused is irreversible.
Since 1963 employers were duty bound by law to protect employees’ hearing if noise levels in the workplace reached unsafe levels. If your employer failed to provide hearing protection (i.e. ear defenders, ear plugs etc), and didn’t give you regular breaks away from the noise they were being negligent.
Many employers disregarded their health and safety obligations and it is their negligence that has led to the permanent damage to your hearing.
The signs and symptoms of NIHL can appear suddenly but, more often than not, the changes to your hearing are subtle and develop over a long period of time. When the symptoms develop gradually, they may not appear noticeable at first, but can worsen with the passage of time. The signs and symptoms can include:
Our specially trained B.S.A (British Society of Audiology) and NHS approved audiologists can tell the difference between NIHL and other types of hearing loss (i.e. age-related hearing loss) by testing your hearing with an audiometer. Different sounds are transmitted to your ears through headphones.
Each time you hear one of the sounds you will be required to press a button to show you have heard it. By determining what you can and can’t hear the audiologist can determine if you are suffering with damage caused by noise.
The amount of compensation awarded will depend on individual circumstances and the severity of hearing loss suffered. The Judicial College (JC) is a panel of experts who set down the guidelines that act as the starting point for determining what level of compensation injuries attract, along with guidance offered by the Courts in previously decided cases.