Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) cases are becoming more and more common after people who have worked in noisy conditions have noticed their hearing deteriorating, often many years later. 
 
Recent statistics from the HSE show that around 20,000 people working during the last year were suffering with NIHL. 
What is considered “too loud”? 
 
Your employer should advise you to protect your hearing, particularly once workplace noise levels reach 80 decibels. Your employer should also provide ear protectors for you to wear and be reducing the noise as much as possible. At 85 decibels or more, it is your employer’s responsibility to not only provide you with ear protection but to make sure you wear it. Your employer should also be monitoring for hearing damage within its staff. 
 
When you think of hearing loss from work, you might only associate it with industrial workplaces such as engineering or manufacturing, road mending, drilling or other machinery operation, textile mills. However, you may also experience NIHL from working in bars, night clubs, or concert venues. 
 
Data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggests that noise levels in pubs can run at around 96 decibels. Think about how your ears ring after a night out on the town and then imagine working in that environment daily and the damage it would do! It’s imperative that people working in such noisy environments are provided with ear defenders, at the very least. 
 
How will I know if my hearing is damaged? 
 
Unfortunately, you may not be aware that your hearing has been damaged for a while after being exposed to noise. You may think that your hearing loss is linked to old age or that it’s just ‘one of those things’ but if you were often exposed to loud noise at work, then this might be the cause of your hearing problems. An audiogram will often show whether your hearing loss is caused by factors other than your advancing years. 
You may have a claim for personal injury against your employer if they didn’t ensure you had the correct protection for your hearing. For example, by reducing noise levels or limiting exposure. 
 
What are the tell-tale signs of NIHL? 
 
Often, you may be unaware that your hearing has been affected. A common sign that you have sustained Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is other people telling you that you talk too loudly, or saying that you have the TV on too loud. Is this what is happening to you? 
 
Frequently we find that people who are suffering with NIHL have difficulty hearing every-day noises such as the telephone ringing, or hearing people talk, especially in situations where there is lots of background noise. What do you struggle to hear? 
 
What can you do? 
 
If you work in a noisy environment, and you’re worried about your hearing, then raise this with your employer. You could use the ‘2 metre’ rule to make an assessment of whether your workplace might be too noisy. If it is too noisy to communicate easily with a colleague who is 2 metres away from you, then your hearing may well be at risk. 
 
We suggest that you put your concerns in writing and that you keep a copy of what you say. Email is the best method of alerting your employer, because even if your employer deletes the email, then you should have a copy of the sent email. 
 
You should seek medical advice if you realise your hearing is no longer as good as it used to be. You should then get legal advice about making a claim. 
 
For NIHL, your 3 years to make a claim starts to run from the moment it was reasonable for you to know that your hearing loss was related to exposure to noise at work. Often, but not always, this is the date of your diagnosis. A court may extend this period of time under certain circumstances. 
 
I usually offer No Win, No Fee agreements in order to bring Noise-Induced Hearing Loss claims on behalf of my clients. Although compensation cannot make up for your hearing loss, with a successful claim you should be able to get the best hearing aids to help you. On top of this, you should be able to claim for your Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity as well as any past and future losses. 
 
I, Stephen Hattersley, am an expert in personal injury and I can help to get you this compensation. Please contact me today if you think you have NIHL. 
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