Deaf Awareness Week 2021 runs from 4th – 9th May 2021 and aims to promote the positive aspects of living with deafness and raise awareness of organisations that work to support those living with hearing loss and deafness within our communities.
To mark the event, we have put together some information on Industrial Deafness and how the law protects those who suffer hearing loss as a result of their working environment.
What is Industrial Deafness?
Industrial deafness can best be described as the deterioration of your hearing as a result of your working environment and conditions. Any employee who is exposed to loud noise over a prolonged period, or in exceptional cases even for a relatively short period, is at risk of developing industrial deafness.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a physical condition (rather than a disease) and can also be caused by an overexposure to noise. The condition manifests itself by causing noises (most often described as ‘ringing’) in the ears when no such noise is actually present.
How might my hearing loss be caused by my job?
The length and intensity of exposure to loud noises both on a daily basis and over a period of time are contributing factors to industrial deafness and tinnitus. Occupations which are most frequently affected by industrial deafness and tinnitus are those who use heavy machinery and include the manufacturing, construction, agriculture and transport industries.
How does the law protect me if I have suffered Industrial Deafness?
At work, your employer has a duty to minimise noise in the workplace in order to prevent the high exposure levels which have been proven to be a potential cause of industrial deafness and tinnitus.
There are regulations in place, including The Control of Noise at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 which outline what acceptable levels of noise are, how employers should ensure that noise levels are minimised and that suitable protective equipment, such as ear defenders, is provided.
There is a claims process available for those who may have been affected by noise levels in their workplace and have suffered tinnitus or industrial deafness as a result. A person suffering from industrial hearing loss may also be eligible for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. It would therefore be important for legal advice on all options available to be sought at the earliest instance from a solicitor specialised in this complex area of law.