Industrial Deafness Claims *
Industrial deafness is a hearing impairment that is brought on by exposure to excessive noise in the workplace. Common symptoms that may be present at the onset of industrial deafness are; struggling to hear the TV, missing parts of sentences in a conversation or experiencing a constant buzzing or ringing in your ears (tinnitus).
Employees who are exposed to a high level of noise on a daily basis should wear ear protection to avoid this injury. There is a responsibility for both the employer and the employee to ensure industrial deafness is avoided.
Factors that contribute to industrial deafness are the noise levels they are exposed to and the length of time at which they have been exposed. If you have difficulty to hear certain frequencies in your working life, it may be worth investigating the noise environment at your workplace. If you are considering making a claim our team of solicitors specialise work-related injuries, such as industrial deafness and can assist you in making sense of your situation.
Common Workplaces of Occupational Hearing Loss
Noise-induced industrial deafness can happen in a number of different working environments. People can suffer from this hearing impairment in the following workplaces:
- Factories – A factory is often an enclosed working space which makes it difficult to avoid loud sounds that may be slowly affecting your hearing. Any factory that operates heavy plant and machinery pose a potential risk to the employees if they are not wearing the correct protective headgear.
- Construction sites – construction workers and engineers working on construction sites can be exposed to loud noises on a daily basis from machinery and heavy-duty tools such as jackhammers. This can negatively affect their hearing if proper precautions are not adhered to.
- Quarries/Miners – constant exposure to explosions and drillings etc., can induce hearing loss if ear wear is not provided.
- Call centres – not all cases of industrial deafness are related to construction-related workplaces. In an office environment, a person can experience noise-induced hearing loss if they are wearing faulty headphones during the day or the volume of hearing headphones is turned up too loudly. To avoid this the employer should ensure that headsets are fitted with the appropriate volume limitation to protect its workers.
Industrial deafness symptoms include:
- Difficulty hearing speech when there is background noise
- Needing to turn the television volume up to high levels in order to hear properly
- Constant ringing and buzzing in one or both ears
- Missing words or parts of sentences during a conversation
The symptoms can be categorised as follows:
- Mild – difficulty hearing speech during a conversation, the TV, radio in environments where there is light background noise present.
- Moderate – similar to the above but the person may need a wear a hearing aid on a daily basis.
- Severe – As the person may need to rely on other forms of communication such as sign language or lip reading in conjunction with a hearing aid.
- Profound – A person relies solely on the use of lip reading and sign language.
Tinnitus is a high-pitched ringing, buzzing, hissing or humming sound in your ears and is a common disorder linked with workplace hearing impairment. Similar to what you would experience after a loud concert or from a nightclub with loud music (which is temporary), constant exposure to loud noises in the workplace can bring on permanent tinnitus if the adequate ear protection is not provided or worn by the employee.
Some of the causes of industrial deafness consist of:
- Working in manual labouring sites without ear protection
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) not being provided by the employer
- Listening to excessively loud music with earphones or in prolonged exposure to loud music in nightclubs or at a concert
- Working close to loud machinery without adequate ear protection
Acoustic Shock in the Workplace
Acoustic shock syndrome is a disorder that is brought on by sudden, high volume sound. It may result in hearing loss, tinnitus or painful sensitivity to sounds. Acoustic shock can be classified in three different groups;
- Early onset (within minutes of the event): Pain/discomfort around the ear, hearing impairment (muffled hearing), Fatigue, feeling lightheaded, dizziness, nausea
- Medium onset (hours to days after the event): Tinnitus, Hyperacusis, Dysacusis
- Late onset: Anxiety, Phobic Anxiety, Depression
Factory workers, machinery workers and other workers on construction sites may be exposed to sudden, loud unexpected sounds that can cause hearing damage if the correct protective gear is not worn.
For an office worker or call centre agent in an office environment a technical fault or feedback from a phone receiver or headset, if loud enough, can cause hearing loss or a case of tinnitus leaving the person painfully sensitive to sound.
Making a Claim
1. Seek medical attention
If you feel as though you are experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, tinnitus or any other symptom associated with occupational hearing impairment, you should seek medical attention immediately. Reporting the symptoms to your doctor and you can request a medical report from him documenting your injuries. You will need this as part of the claims process.
2. Keep a diary of events
Keeping a diary of events to include witness statements, times in which you were exposed to excessive noise, safety equipment you had or had no access to at the time. Reporting these incidents to your employer is also an important step and records of these should be kept in your diary. Proving that your injury could have been avoided if the appropriate safety gear was provided at the time by your employer is an important aspect of your case. This will help prove that your hearing injury was a direct result of your working environment.
3. Speak with a solicitor
Once you have gathered all the important information, speaking a solicitor should be your next step. Your solicitor will guide you through the process of making a claim. The first step will be to submit an application to the Injuries Board for your claim to be assessed (most personal injury claims * must be assessed by the Injuries Board first). Once the application is assessed your solicitor will move through the process with you to ensure that your best interest is met at all stages of the claims process.
The settlement of a case will vary as each case will be different. Generally, the settlement procedure would work as follows (of course, this is subject to change and your solicitor will keep you informed at each stage of the process):
- Your solicitor will submit your claim to the Injuries Board for assessment
- The Injuries Board assess your case and revert with a suggested compensation amount
- You then decide whether to accept the amount suggested or to reject and move the next stage of the process
- If both parties accept the compensation suggest, then your case will be settled at this point.
- If one of both parties decline the suggested settlement amount then you move to the next stage of the settlement process
- In cases where the Injuries Board assessment is not agreed to, then legal proceedings are issued and your case moves forward to a court hearing.
- Before the court hearing, settlement talks do take place. In most cases, a case is resolved, settled and compensation agreed at settlement talks before having to step foot into a courtroom.
- If your case is not settled at the settlement talks stage, then your case moves to a court hearing where a Judge will make a decision on your case.
Settlement talks are a good opportunity for your legal team to talk to the other side’s legal team to settle any disagreements on what costs are to be awarded. Costs awarded usually consist of an amount for the injury itself and added expenses you may have incurred; these claims are called damages:
- General Damages: Non-financial damages such as pain and suffering and/or physical and emotional injuries following the incident and impact of the injury on your quality of life.
- Special Damages: Out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident * for example, loss of earnings (if you were out of work), future loss of earnings for extended time out of work, medical bills, future medical bills, and any added travel costs as a result of the injury, for example, travel to and from the hospital.
When a case is assessed by the Injuries Board, they will review their Book of Quantum in order to get an insight into how past cases similar to yours has settled in order to come to a conclusion about how much compensation they will suggest. See our compensation claims estimator to see how much compensation has been awarded in the past for different injuries to different parts of the body.
As well as the individual injury compensation, the following may be taken into account when assessing how much compensation would be entitled to:
- Impact the injury has on your quality of life
- Earnings you have lost, if you are absent from work
- Future earnings lost as a result of the injury
- Medical cost for treatment of the injury
- Future medical costs, if long-term treatment is needed
- Out of pocket expenses, like travel costs
- Psychological injuries
Legal time limits
The industrial deafness claim * time limit lasts for a period of two years. The two year period starts from the date of knowledge, this is generally the date an accident occurred, or the date when a person has realised that they are suffering from some form of industrial deafness. This may be the case for Industrial deafness as sometimes the symptoms can take longer to surface.
Therefore, is it important that as soon as you are made aware by your doctor that you may be suffering from an occupational hearing impairment that you contact a solicitor as soon as possible.
Once the two-year time frame has elapsed legal proceedings can no longer be brought forward. The injury claim is then labelled as statute-barred.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CASE
If you suffer from industrial deafness our team of personal injury * solicitors in Dublin is on hand to answer any questions you may have. For a confidential discussion, please call Tracey Solicitors on 01 649 9900 or email email@example.com and tell us about your case.
With 30 years’ experience in personal injury * cases, Tracey Solicitors, ensure not to overwhelm you with legal jargon and can provide you with legal advice and guidance with your best interest at heart, in a language that you can understand.