In the United Kingdom many thousands of people have been affected by noise induced hearing loss.

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1 Deafness due to noise What is industrial/occupational deafness? Industrial deafness is usually caused by the repeated exposure to excessive noise at work but can be caused by a one time exposure to loud sound. Noise can cause permanent hearing damage and may cause tinnitus (a ringing or whistling in the ears). Tinnitus is also an injury for which compensation can be paid. The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels for example, normal conversation is approximately 60 decibels, the humming of a refrigerator is 40 decibels and heavy city traffic noise can be 85 decibels. Exposure to harmful sounds causes damage to the sensitive hair cells of the inner ear as well as the hearing nerve. The Law The law generally accepts that since 1963 employers should have been aware of the danger of exposing their employees to excessive noise. The Noise at Work Act 1989 was introduced which puts in place rules to prevent noise induced hearing loss occurring. Levels of noise which cause damage In the United Kingdom many thousands of people have been affected by noise induced hearing loss. Exposure to noise about 85 decibels (db) may be hazardous even if it only lasts for a short period. The higher the level of noise and the longer the period of exposure, the more likely damage is to be caused and the more severe the damage is likely to be. Each time you are exposed to excessive noise, the damage is added to the previous damage caused by noise to make you deafer. 1 / 5

2 Some types of tools and equipment producing noise levels in excess of 85 db include:- Compressor db Mining drill db Diesel generator db Gas turbine db Metal saw db Impact wrench db Grinder db Guillotine db Impact gun db Cross cut saw db Welding machine db Brake riveter db Blower/pump db Wood planer db Bandsaw db Belt sander db The symptoms of noise induced hearing loss The symptoms of noise induced hearing loss increase gradually over a period of continuous exposure. Sounds may become distorted or muffled and it may be difficult for the person to understand speech. The individual may not be aware of the loss but it can be detected with a hearing test. What to do if you suspect you have noise induced hearing loss. Make an appointment to see your G.P. usually she/he will refer you to an audiologist or ear, nose and throat specialist who can carry out the test. If you think that you have been exposed to excessive amounts of noise at work, you should contact a solicitor who specialises in industrial disease cases. Claims for industrial deafness and tinnitus are complex and may involve complicated legal arguments about time limits. Generally speaking, a claim for personal injury must be brought within 3 years from the date the injury was first suffered i.e. within 3 years of when the employee first knew or should have known that the condition was caused by exposure to excessive noise levels at work. 2 / 5

3 See below for examples of cases where the 3 year time limit was extended. However, it is important to act quickly. Organisations which may be able to help if you have occupational deafness:- RNID (Royal National Institute for Deaf People) - is the largest charity working to change the world for the UK's 9 million deaf and hard of hearing people. Deafness Research UK - is the medical charity for deaf and hard of hearing people. They exist to secure radical improvements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of all forms of hearing impairment. Ultimately, their aim is to find cures for these distressing and neglected disabilities. JobCentrePlus - Information about benefits you can claim if you have developed Industrial Deafness or any other Industrial Illness. HSE (Health & Safety Executive) - their mission is to protect people's health and safety by ensuring risks in the changing workplace are properly controlled. News stories about industrial deafness Our client -v- W T Knowles Mr W worked for W T Knowles between 1973 and 1976 in their clay mines. He was in the vicinity of detonations used to excavate the clay. He was not provided with hearing protection but merely covered his ears with his hands. Unfortunately, he developed noise induced hearing loss. 3 / 5

4 We took over conduct of this matter at the end of September The Claimant had contacted prior to this a solicitor who did not specialise in industrial disease cases. His insurer was not prepared to take a risk on this case and Mr W came to John Pickering and Partners. Knowles' said that Mr W was sufficiently far away to escape noise damage. They admitted hearing protection was not provided but blamed his other employers for the noise induced hearing loss. We obtained a further medical report which was more helpful than the previous solicitors' medical report. We obtained engineering evidence from a specialist in acoustic engineering who confirmed that the levels of noise to which the Claimant would have been exposed in shot blast were very high and in breach of Regulations. The case settled a few days before trial for 8,000. Mr W was very pleased with the result and intends to recommend John Pickering and Partners to his friends and colleagues. Mr H -v- Sonoco A case where our client delayed getting advice Our client was awarded 6,000 for mild deafness and tinnitus following exposure to noise at a paper factory. In 1994 our client was told that he had hearing loss but did not contact solicitors to make a claim until There was a trial on whether or not the Claimant was out of time to make a claim and whether permission should be given to allow his claim to proceed. This was a difficult case because usually a person has only 3 years from the time they found out that they had deafness probably due to work to put in a claim. The Judge decided that although the delay was significant that the Defendant had not suffered much difficulty because the case was brought late. The Defendant appealed to the Court of Appeal but the Court of Appeal rejected that Appeal. He got his compensation. 4 / 5

5 Cases where clients bring their case late are difficult to win. They need very thorough and painstaking preparation and they can be lost very easily, but we like difficult cases, particularly when we win them. What can John Pickering and Partners LLP do? You may have a claim for compensation for dermatitis caused at work, if your employer has not done enough to stop you getting dermatitis. If you think you have a claim, please get in touch. We can also help you claim benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions. We offer conditional fee agreements (also known as no win, no fee agreements). For a fuller explanation, please see our asbestos compensation guide which has information relating to conditional fee agreements for all types of industrial diseases. 5 / 5

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