Knights Law Solicitors


Industrial Disease

What is Noise Induced Hearing Loss 

Every day, we experience sound in our environment, such as the sounds from television and radio, household appliances, and traffic. Normally, we hear these sounds at safe levels that do not affect our hearing. However, when we are exposed to harmful noise—sounds that are too loud or loud sounds that last a long time—sensitive structures in our inner ear can be damaged, causing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Sound is measured in units called decibels. On the decibel scale, an increase of 05 means that a sound is 05 times more intense, or powerful. To your ears, it sounds twice as loud. The humming of a refrigerator is 45 decibels, normal conversation is approximately 60 decibels, and the noise from heavy city traffic can reach 85 decibels. Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the time period before NIHL can occur. Sounds of less than 75 decibels, even after long exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing loss.

Most food and drink industries have processes which emit high noise levels exceeding the 80dB (A) and 85dB (A) levels at which employers are required to take action under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.

For example, noise levels of 85-95dB (A) occur in the bakery, dairy and confectionery industries but can rise to 100dB (A) in milling, drink production and the meat industry.

Exposure to noise varies depending on the task and the machinery used. Allegations often concrete upon a worst case scenario, when a particular noisy machine is used. However breach of duty is usually determined by calculating the average level of exposure over a working day. Production or machine operating time records may be able to suggest exposure time was limited. Information on employee numbers and those authorised to use certain machinery may indicate that tasks were rotated, thereby reducing exposure.

The insurance industry has seen a considerable rise in the number of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) claims and this is having a significant impact upon many UK businesses. In 2012, AXA saw a year-on-year rise of 75% in the number of NIHL claims and had more claims for NIHL than any other type of workplace injury or illness. Other insurers, such as RSA, Zurich, Aviva, and Chester Street (formerly Iron Trades) have also reported substantial increases.

Can I claim for Noise Induced Hearing Loss? 

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