Industrial deafness is the “new whiplash” according to the Association British Insurers.
That is because over the last 12 months in particular, there has been a spike in the number of people coming forward to make claims against their employers.
Is the statement true? Well, in some ways, yes it is. It is true because, like whiplash, for long periods of time industrial deafness has been dismissed as a real problem or injury and people have not been aware that they can seek compensation for it.
This is the real reason that the insurance industry doesn’t want people to hear behind the rise in the number of people making claims for industrial deafness.
People are now better informed of the reasons behind why hearing loss can occur in their lives, whether it is at an early point while their career is still active or later on as they move towards and beyond retirement.
It is easy, in hindsight, to focus attention on the morals of claiming for compensation, despite the victims suffering being down to the negligence of their employers and an inability to fulfil their duty of care, but what should be focused on is what can be done to avoid deafness being caused in the workplace in the first place.
The myth would be that this is a furore, whipped up by greedy lawyers but in essence no one wants to lose their hearing at any point in the life. Yes, hearing quality commonly declines as you get older, but why should that process be sped up when it avoidable.
So what can the employer do to stop claims being brought against them? Well a good place to start is to take their duty of care seriously and learn what are and aren’t acceptable noise levels for the employees to be working in.
Controlling noise risks and exposure has to be a priority for any employer, especially those that work in factory environments and the like.
Take practical precautions where necessary to reduce noise levels around the work environment, whether that is alternative equipment or machinery or alternative work processes that will protect your staff.
As an employer, you should study your risk assessment. It is not just a piece of paper that proves that you have had one carried out, it is there to guide you towards providing the safest working environment possible.
Use the information gathered to improve the level of noise control and don’t just stop once you have implemented a plan of action. Carry out regular checks to make sure that the guidelines are being stuck to.
By visiting the Health and Safety Executive section of the Government’s website, you can find a number of great suggestions on how to reduce noise levels that will bring you in line with what is expected from you.
It is also important that is not just noise reduction that can help. You can also ensure that you are providing the correct level of hearing protection for members of staff who are working in noisier environments.
Be sure to see what the best protection available to you is and make the investment. It might seem like a lot to spend at the time, but if these precautions are not taken and your employee suffers as a result, it will soon be a worthwhile investment compared to having an industrial deafness claim being lodged against you.
When the investment is made don’t leave it to chance that the employee will know how to use the hearing protection because in a lot of cases they probably won’t.
Make sure adequate training is provided, or that it is included in any health and safety training that you already run as a company, even for something as simple as using ear protectors.
The more careful you are the better so don’t fear being close to patronising with your approach to this because it could be the difference between you having a claim lodged against you by an employee or not.
If you are reading this and feel that your workplace isn’t fulfilling their care of duty in regards to noise pollution, don’t hesitate to arrange a meeting with your manager and discuss it with them. They should appreciate the feedback and it will help them moving forward.
But if you are reading this and you feel that your employer has failed to comply with the correct procedures and you are struggling with your hearing, ensure that you take a hearing test.
If you have suffered hearing loss and you feel it is down to the conditions within the place you have or do work in, contact us and we can advise you on whether or not you are entitled to make a claim for compensation.
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