Do you spend more time worrying about noise at work? You are not alone. Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) has become a major issue for all manner of businesses throughout the UK. Personal Injury Lawyers are now promising to fight for compensation under what they call industrial deafness but what are the facts?
In total, it is estimated that 18,000 people currently suffer from noise-induced hearing loss caused by their working environment. However, new statistics released by the Health & Safety Executive have revealed that the number of new cases under the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit scheme (IIDB) has fallen by 66% in a decade (2003-2013).
A fall in new cases for IIDB is welcome and hopefully a sign that the issue of noise-induced hearing loss is being taken more seriously. However, Personal Injury Lawyers are circling above. Following a reduction of fixed legal costs associated with whiplash injuries last year, they are looking for a new “cash cow” to exploit. TheÂ Association of British Insurers reports that, on average, lawyers can makeÂ around Â£10,500 per deafness claim, compared with Â£500 for whiplash cases. In 2013 alone,Â there wereÂ 80,000 claims, with about 10% receiving compensation.
The Association of British InsurersÂ is nowÂ trying to limit the costs associated with industrial deafness claims to reverse this worrying trend.
The future of hearing loss in the UK
The Commission on Hearing LossÂ predicts that by 2031, 20% of the UK population will be affected by hearing loss. That represents âa Â£25 billion loss to the UK economy in potential economic output.â This goes to show that the issue of hearing loss if far from being settled and with Industrial Deafness Claims hitting the headlines, will we see an increase in claims for 2014?
Only time will tell but thatâs not the only reason noise-induced hearing loss has been hitting the headlines recently.
Is a Cure on the Horizon?
New research from scientists from the University of Michigan and Harvard Medical School shows that they were able to restore the hearing in mice suffering from noise-induced hearing loss. ByÂ increasing production of a protein called Neurotrophin-3 (NT3), they were able to improve communication between the ears and the brain.Â This line of communication can be damaged by excessive noise exposure but NT3Â looks to rebuild faultyÂ connections.
Mice treated with HT3 often regained their hearing within 2 weeks of treatment, compared to mice with no treatment at all. This exciting research paves the way to potentially restoring hearing in people affected by noise-induced hearing loss or age-related hearing loss.
Prevention is Better than the Cure
It’s an old saying but it stands the test of time.Â The best way to protect yourself from noise-induced hearing loss is to ensure you are working in a safe environment, free from excessive levels of noise exposure.
It is the law to monitor noise levels and ensure employees are adequately protected but with so many variables to consider, it can be a challenge.
The easiest way to identify hazardous noise levels is with an Optimus Sound Level Meter. Designed and manufactured in the UK, it is the ideal instrument for monitoring occupational noise. Free with every Optimus is our NoiseTools software, which can recommend hearing protection based on your noise measurements.
Need advice on monitoring noise work? We’re all ears. Contact our noise experts today for free advice and product support.
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