Is industrial deafness the new whiplash?
Industrial Deafness Claims
An estimated 80,000 industrial deafness claims were filed in 2014 — causing some insurers to label the injury as the ‘new whiplash’. As an owner or manager of an engineering, construction or manufacturing firm, you still need to implement an effective industrial deafness risk management scheme. This guidance will protect not only your workers, but your investments as well.
Risks Associated With Industrial Deafness
High production of noise is inevitable in an engineering, construction or manufacturing firm—yet the associated risks are not. If, as the owner or manager, you fail to properly assess the potential risks or provide adequate hearing protection for your workers, you risk the following:
For your workers:
- Permanent and disabling hearing loss
- Development of tinnitus
For your organisation:
- Litigation costs and fines
- Damaged public image While this does not reflect a comprehensive list, it does highlight the most detrimental risks for those involved
Guarding Against Industrial Deafness Risks
A significant portion of the industrial deafness claims made in recent years are not being filed by current employees, but by individuals that were employed 20, 30 or even 40 years ago. While it is difficult to retroactively protect your organisation and employees, there are several strategies you can adopt to mitigate retroactive industrial deafness claims.
- Maintain well-organised records of any employee wellness programmes that you have instituted over the years. Include any collected results.
- Maintain records of noise-exposure levels throughout your operation. Include the decibel amount that tools and machinery produce.
- Produce a regular report detailing what potential risks have been identified and what measures have been taken to mitigate their damage. Include what safety equipment has been provided to your employees.
- Provide regular wellness assessments to monitor the health of workers’ hearing. Adjust your safety practices if workers’ quality of hearing starts to decline
Article by David Workman of Willis & Co (Insurance Brokers) Ltd