Are headphones to blame for 40% NIHL claims rise?

This article was published on: 05/30/14

Man wearing headphones

A leading insurance group has revealed that, since the implementation of the Jackson Reforms, there has been an increase of 40%, on the number of claims made for noise induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Employers are now being urged to take important steps to improve conditions for their work forces, as they are still responsible for health and safety.

One of the contributing factors that is deemed to be putting a quarter of the UK’s workforce at risk of NIHL, is the use of headphones, according to a study released by the audio technology company LimitEar.

Stephen Wheatley, who is the managing director for LimitEar explained, saying: “With digital development in music and audio devices, it’s becoming more commonplace for people to plug in their own headphones or earphones whilst at work.

“This research is representative of Britain’s workforce generally, but hundreds of thousands of employees, such as call centre workers and emergency services, are required to use headphones occupationally so are significantly more at risk of NIHL.”

Speaking on behalf of the leading insurance group, QBE, Senior Risk Manager Mike Barraclough urged employers to take action, saying: “Noise Induced Hearing Loss claims have increased 40% in the first year following the Jackson Reforms.

“Employers need to take pro-active steps to manage their employees’ exposure to noise. In addition, employers must also provide evidence of such actions in the event of a Noise Induced Hearing Loss claim being pursued, to increase the prospect of successfully defending such claims.”

The findings on NIHL have been described as very concerning by the Head of Biomedical Research on Hearing Loss, who reiterated Mr Barraclough’s calls for employers to take action to ensure the safety of their employees.
He added: “Hearing loss must start being considered as the serious health issue it is. It can impact relationships with friends, family, staying in employment and has even been linked with other conditions like dementia. The damage to your hearing caused by prolonged exposure to loud noise is irreversible, but it can be easily prevented.”

The European regulations stipulate that workers should not be exposed to average noise levels of more that 85dB, yet when listening to musical devices at full volume, in most cases, the employer is exceeding that at 100dB.

So the question remains for employers moving forward, are headphones causing a rise in the instances of NIHL and, if so,  should headphones in the workplace become a thing of the past?

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