Silence is not golden...
Sheila Pantry OBE
For the thousands of workers who suffer from industrial deafness - the topic that was discussed at the UK Northern TUC Health and Safety Forum on Friday, 28 September 2012 was of great importance. www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/noise-and-vibration/silence-not-golden
Many people assume the affects of exposure to excessive levels of noise affects mainly workers in heavy industry but the reality is that in the UK over one million people are affected by noise in the workplace and over 17,000 people currently suffer from work-related noise induced hearing loss. Consider the enormous number of workers that suffer worldwide.
Noise at work can cause hearing damage that is permanent and disabling and once a person's hearing is destroyed they do not recover from it. Hearing loss is not the only problem as sufferers may go on to develop tinnitus, a distressing condition which can lead to disturbed sleep and hypersensitivity to noise. In addition there is the noise interference acoustic shock, a problem identified within call centres. 'Acoustic Shock' is a term used in connection with incidents involving exposure to short duration, high frequency, high intensity sounds through a telephone headset or handset.
However, the UK Control of Noise at Work Regulations does not include specific reference to acoustic shock. The UK Communication Workers Union (CWU) is continuing to fight for recognition of acoustic shock as a potentially devastating industrial injury problem and has worked with its lawyers, Simpson Millar to achieve compensation for those members suffering personal injury. It is interesting to note that all CWU litigation cases concerning acoustic shock have been settled out of court before a precedent judgement could be made. The first 120 cases the CWU took up resulted in total compensation of £279,881.00 for members affected by acoustic Shock (it is believed the UK figure is now around £2 million paid out by employers in out of court settlements).
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