Falling on Deaf Ears

Your workplace might not be a noisy environment but if you’re involved in any kind of manufacturing trade or general industry  you may still be exposed. If you have not already suffered a claim for Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) A.K.A  Industrial Deafness we will explain some of the measures that you can take now to have the best chance of defending the claim when it comes.

Industrial Deafness is caused by prolonged exposure to high volume noise levels at work. The sufferer typically notices a loss of hearing in their 60’s which means that there may be a long gap between exposure and the claim being intimated against you. Claims for NIHL have increased dramatically in recent years. Companies involved in the provision of historic employers liability cover have seen increases in new claim volumes of around 200% in the last 4 years and a near doubling of volumes in the last 12 months. Worker with protective headphone

Claims are brought in a “scattergun” approach to many or all previous employers without proper assessment of issues such as exposure or causation. Therefore, even if you don’t have a noisy working environment, the fact is that if you can’t prove that then you could be dragged in to the action. Claims farmers and claimant solicitors are targeting NIHL claims as they look to bridge the loss of income and profitable work following the advent of Fixed Cost Regimes in road traffic accidents and lower value Employer’s Liability and Public Liability claims. The vast majority of NIHL claims fall outside the new ‘portal’ arrangements and therefore will continue to attract hourly rate fees rather than portal fixed costs.

What this means is that NIHL claims are increasingly attractive to claimant solicitors.

What you can do.  

  • Insurance records Keep records of historic Insurers and equally as important – policy numbers. This is especially important; If you can’t evidence your insurance history then you are treated as uninsured for the purposes of an employee’s period of employment with you? As a company you have to pay the claim yourselves.
  • Corporate history Claims are often brought against subsidiary companies or businesses that you may have acquired if you took on their liabilities so retain records of all such entities Noise surveys. If you have them, retain them. If you don’t conduct them then consider doing so. It can be a very low cost exercise and will give you the protection from a claim.
  • Health and Safety records. Documentation such as
    • Risk Assessments in relation to noise exposure,
    • evidence of training on the dangers of noise at work,StevoHeadShot
    • evidence of hearing tests,
    • documents evidencing provision and enforcements of the wearing of hearing protection can all help defend a claim and should be kept for a long period of time if not indefinitely.

The fact is that if you can demonstrate any sort of defence to a claim then the claims farmers recognise that you aren’t an easy target and so go and look for someone who is. If you need help or further advice then please contact Ken Stevens on 01302 341 344. 

By Ian Stephenson, Claims Manager.

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