Noise Induced Hearing Loss

What is noise induced hearing loss?

Noise induced hearing loss is a hearing impairment caused by exposure to loud, high decibel sound. Noise induced hearing loss is one of the most common types of hearing loss together with age related hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss can affect one ear or both ears. Hearing loss can be determined by having an audiogram carried out. This can be arranged through your GP.

Often noise induced hearing loss is also associated with tinnitus which is a “ringing” in your ears. This can be extremely frustrating and has varying levels of duration, depending on whether it has been caused by a short term excessive exposure to noise, or long term exposure to high levels of noise. It can be permanent. Tinnitus is usually classed by medical experts as mild, moderate or severe.

What causes noise induced hearing loss?

Noise induced hearing loss may be caused by exposure to noise over a prolonged period or a one-time exposure e.g. an explosion. Depending on the type of noise exposure, noise induced hearing loss can take a long time to become noticeable. You may experience difficulty in conversations with background noise, hearing the doorbell or you may need to raise the volume on your television. If you are exposed to gunfire or an explosion or very excessive noise the hearing loss may be immediate. Noise induced hearing loss can affect people of all ages.

Noise in the workplace

It is inevitable that there will be some noise levels in the workplace. Your employer has a duty not to expose you to excessive noise and should take all steps necessary to minimise noise to include providing hearing protection, if necessary, such as ear defenders or ear inserts. These should be readily available, of good quality and replaced regularly. Risk assessments should also be carried out. The Control of Noise at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 outlines what acceptable levels of noise are and what duties your employer has to try and minimise noise in the workplace. Sound is measured in decibels, sounds of less than 75 decibels, even after prolonged exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing loss. Sounds above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. As a general rule the louder the sound the less exposure is required to cause noise induced hearing loss.

Some of the most common occupations associated with hearing loss are:-

  • Construction
  • Agriculture
  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation
  • Military and Police

You can take a claim within 3 years of a diagnosis of noise induced hearing loss or tinnitus. Therefore even if the damage was caused a number of years ago you may still be able to take a claim if the hearing loss has been diagnosed within the last three years.

If you believe you have noise induced hearing loss and/or tinnitus caused by your employment then please contact us on 02890329801