It has often been claimed that we live in an increasingly noisy world. The raising of awareness and introducing health & safety legislation has no doubt been responsible for the vast improvement in working conditions over the past 40 years in industrial, manufacturing, factory and building site environments for a workforce who were at most risk from developing industrial deafness.
However, no matter how great the improvements have been, still large numbers of people continue to make hearing damage claims against their employers for failing to provide adequate hearing protection, which lead to suffering noise induced hearing loss.
It is estimated that noise-related hearing problems affect 170,000 people in the UK, while an alarming further 1.1 million, are thought to be at risk.
Too much noise can cause workers to experience any number of problems with their ears, categorised into four main groups of noise-related hearing difficulty: Temporary hearing loss, Permanent hearing loss, Tinnitus, Acoustic trauma.
Acoustic shock is today recognised as a serious industrial injury, appearing to be most prevalent amongst call centre workers, whilst prior to the early 1960s, noise levels in the workplace were not even recognised as being hazardous. A large number of people continued to work in noisy environments, unaware that their hearing could be seriously, if not permanently, damaged.
The first real confirmation of industrial deafness was first publicly noted in 1963, but it was not until 1974 that the Health and Safety at Work Act along with the Health and Safety Executive Code of Practice was introduced in an attempt to reduce employee exposure to loud noise levels at work. More than a decade later, in 1986, a European Economic Community ruling was finally implemented in the UK under the Noise at Work Regulations in 1989.
Since that time, many companies and employers have worked to both protect their employees and guard themselves against industrial deafness compensation claims, which are still on the rise due to the recognition of conditions such as acoustic trauma.