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Industrial deafness » Acoustic shock

The incidence of compensation claims for industrial deafness and acoustic shock is expected to rise as more and more call centre staff become aware of their rights to claim for work-related conditions as a result of hearing loss.

Acoustic shocks are freak outbreaks of sound on telephone headsets, which can cause call centre staff serious pain. They can be deliberate or accidental and include fax machine noise, customers tapping into a handset and people carrying out malicious acts like blowing whistles down the phone.

This condition can result in long-term hearing damage, including difficulties in tolerating certain types and levels of sound. The size of awards for acoustic shock deafness claims usually reflect this loss, for example, a BT employee won 90,000 in personal injury compensation after suffering acoustic shock at his company telephone exchange.

There is a need for more research into the causes and effects of noise interference and acoustic shock on telephone and headset users. Cases continue to rise but there is still not enough solid information. Acoustic shock can leave workers with depression, headaches and other health problems.

The HSEs initial thoughts on acoustic shock syndrome were largely based on physiological proof, linking an individuals exposure to noise and the level of risk to their hearing.

A study incorporating evidence from 15 UK call centres indicated that workers were not normally exposed to levels of noise considered likely to cause hearing loss. Further tests are needed, however, for more detailed analysis.

Out-of-court settlements already total more than 10 million and the accident claim base is increasing mainly because PC headsets for use with VOIP packages do not offer basic levels of protection afforded by standard call centre telephone headsets.

News stories released in 2006 showed that thousands of call centre workers are at risk if employers fail to take action to deal with acoustic shock personal injuries resulting in industrial deafness.

Employers have a legal duty under the UKs Noise at Work Regulations and EU legislation 2003/10/EC to reduce the risk of damage to an employees hearing.

British Unions have already handled more than 700 acoustic shock cases, securing more than 2 million in out of court settlements for workers.

The public safety initiative, Acoustic Shock, lays out legislation relating to industrial deafness from acoustic shock and the risks and preventative procedures of acoustic shock. Read more at www.acousticshock.org.

The new Control of Noise at Work Regulations currently (December 2006) dont include specific reference to acoustic shock apart from the maximum noise level that a person should be exposed to - 118 decibels (dBA). This also happens to be the maximum limit to which headset manufacturers refer when they talk about being compliant.

Industrial deafness compensation claim

Acoustic shock and industrial deafness cases are on the rise and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has been campaigning for the recognition of acoustic shock - a devastating 21st Century industrial personal injury problem - for some time.

Nobody should have to accept hearing loss on account of excessively loud call volumes and telephone conversations. Workers who are already suffering from acoustic shock may be concerned about receiving further shocks. This can tie in with fears that employers are not protecting them by providing them with protective equipment such as special headphones.

Many people are put off making a claim because they think it will cost them a lot of money, with no guarantee of winning any damages. When pursuing a case through HappyClaim, we not only work on a no win no fee basis, but also guarantee you maximum compensation.

To get free legal advice and information about the claims process in language you can understand without legal jargon, get in touch with HappyClaim today.

You can give us some details of the incident surrounding your industrial deafness and get us to call you back at a time convenient for you, or you can simply call us on 01582 437070 to see how our friendly staff that cater for your claim.

We are the acoustic shock experts and are waiting to help you claim for compensation.