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Hearing Loss At Work – Who’s Affected By Industrial Deafness?

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Tranter Cleere – Guest Editorial

Hearing loss is something that millions of people in the UK suffer from, and a portion of these cases come from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in the workplace. Also known as industrial deafness, these cases arise from environments where improper protection is supplied to employees or simply the level of noise is persistent.

An analysis of the Health & Safety Executive’s latest data, provided by accident-claim specialists Tranter Cleere Solicitors, looks at the figures in detail to show how many people suffer and who is at the most risk.

How Many People Suffer With Industrial Deafness?

Rate of UK industrial deafness 2013-2014

The big picture is actually pretty positive; while trends of new cases seem to go through rises and falls every few years, long term the number of cases is almost half of what it was ten years ago. This means that, despite a rise of seven new cases per 100,000 employees last year, new cases as encouragingly low.

What’s difficult about this data from the HSE is that it’s accounting for new cases, which can often take several years of exposure to develop. This makes it particularly tricky to pin down contemporary patterns, and the effects of new guidelines or safety implementations might take some time to be reflected in the statics.

Which Industries Are Most At Risk?

Annual rate of New Industrial deafness cases by Industry

Breaking down into specific industries, the above statistics look at the average annual rate of new cases per 100,000 employees. This is done by analysing three years’ worth of data based on new claims to the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit scheme (IIDB), and calculating an annual average.

Unsurprisingly the two industries with the highest rates of new cases are manufacturing and construction, where the risk of long-term exposure to loud noises (such as noise from industrial equipment and construction machinery) is much greater.

You can view the full statistics by downloading this spreadsheet from the HSE website; it gives a full breakdown of new cases of industrial deafness (and other work-related conditions) by industry.

What’s Being Done To Minimise Dangers?

 

Recently the International Longevity Centre’s commission published a report looking into government support for those suffering from hearing loss, including industrial deafness and NIHL. Its findings were somewhat mixed, and included a number of criticisms and failings where support for those suffering from hearing loss or industrial deafness were being let down. Take a look at the graphic below:

 

Failures from ILC Comission's Final Report

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