Acoustic shock claims


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Acoustic shock is a recognised industrial injury that is most common in those that use the telephone a lot in their job. It is cause by the sudden exposure to a short, unexpected, loud and high frequency sound.

As they spend most of the working day using headsets, call centre staff tend to be most susceptible to acoustic shock - but anyone who is exposed to such a loud and unexpected noise that causes hearing damage could be entitled to make a claim if the correct steps were not taken to prevent it.

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What are the effects of acoustic shock?

Acoustic shock happens when a noise causes a strong muscle contraction in the middle ear, which can lead to the inner membrane tearing. The noise could be caused by feedback on the line, a fax machine or even someone shouting.

This can have a serious impact on the sufferer, with conditions such as tinnitus and hearing loss symptoms as well as a range of other related symptoms such as:

  • Ear pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Jaw and neck pain
  • A hollow feeling or fluttering noises in the ear
  • Poor balance
  • Anxiety
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Fatigue

Acoustic shock can have a huge effect on a person's quality of life, from impacting their work and social life to causing sleep issues and depression.

Who is at fault for acoustic shock at work?

Although 'acoustic shock' is not yet specifically referred to in current legislation, employers have a legal responsibility to make sure their staff have a safe working environment. This includes having reasonable procedures in place to protect employees from excessive noise and training staff about the potential risks.

These requirements come under a range of legislation, including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Noise at Work Regulations 2005, and are overseen by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The Noise at Work Regulations 2005 state that the maximum noise that employees should reasonably be exposed to is 118 decibels - which is the same limit now used by headphone and headset manufacturers. However, acoustic shock can happen below 118 decibels so employers should take additional steps including enabling staff to report incidents of acoustic shock.


How to claim against your employer

It's common to feel uncomfortable at the thought of making a compensation claim against your employer, but don't worry - they will not be required to pay your compensation personally so they won't be left with a huge bill they can't afford.

All employers are required to take out employer's liability insurance which is designed to cover the costs of any personal injury claims made against them by their employees, so if you have a claim your compensation will be paid by the insurance company.

Also, it's worth remembering that it is illegal for your employer to sack you or treat you any differently if you make a compensation claim against them. If you were to lose your job because you made an acoustic shock claim, then this would be seen as "unfair dismissal".

It's also important to make a claim as this can help highlight the safety issues in the workplace which may not have been taken seriously before, meaning the workplace safety will be improved for your colleagues.

Making a noise-induced hearing loss compensation claim

There are strict time limits associated with personal injury claims, so if you feel you are entitied to make a claim against your employer then it is imperative that you get in touch with us as soon as possible.

To start your claim, or to find out more information, get in touch with the personal injury specialists at CL Legal...

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