People put off claiming compensation for tinnitus due to long term effectsAugust 10, 2011
Tinnitus, the ringing sound heard by an individual, usually caused by long term exposure to loud noises, manifests on a number of levels. The most serious of these is commonly identified when the sufferer is unable to sleep due to the volume of the ringing being heard in their ears. Less serious levels of tinnitus are usually identified by the individual occasionally hearing the ringing noise or hearing a quiet ringing only when concentrating and in a silent place. The causes of tinnitus are endless: it is generally caused when a person has been exposed to loud noises on a repetitive basis for a certain amount of time. This occurs in careers where loud noises are part of everyday life, such as sound engineers, construction workers, railway workers and anybody working in music events. It is, of course, the employer’s responsibility to ensure that workers who are exposed to such noises are adequately protected from ear damage. This may involve providing correct ear protection or making sure signs and signals are present in the workplace so as to warn employees when not to enter a certain space due to dangerous noise levels. If the employer does not ensure that safety measures are taken, then they are liable to paying out compensation for tinnitus or any other form of ear damage, such as hearing loss, directly related to the workplace.
The problem that often occurs here is that the long term damage of tinnitus often manifests a while after an eardrum’s exposure to dangerous sound levels has occurred. For example, if a backstage music festival worker has not been provided with protective earphones and is therefore exposed to high sound levels on a regular basis, the tinnitus may not fully set in until after he has left employment of that particular festival. This gap in causality often leads tinnitus sufferers to doubt whether a claim for compensation for tinnitus will be worthwhile, as they believe that they will not be taken seriously; especially if the initial damage was done many years or months ago. They may also find it difficult to remember the names of offending companies and individuals, who they believe should have exercised better protective precautions. As daunting as it may be to apply for compensation for tinnitus years after the initial damage has been done, this should not put off individuals claiming what they are entitled to.
Luke, 23, from Ealing, London worked as a backstage hand at a large, professional gig venue in central London between the ages of 17-20. He had thoroughly enjoyed the work, finding the buzzing atmosphere very exciting, however, the areas of the backstage were always extremely loud during rehearsals and performances. Luke had noticed at the time that certain workers wore headphones in these areas and wondered whether he should ask for a pair. He decided that he would ask the Stage Manager for a pair of headphones. When he approached the Stage Manager, Luke was told that there was no more budget for more headphones, and that he would have to do without. Not wanting to cause a fuss, Luke thanked the Stage Manager for his time and continued with his work. Luke remembers that occasionally his ears drums felt very painful during live performances and that after shows he sometimes could not hear people speaking to him properly. Luke was not extremely worried at the time – he was young and did not know about the dangers of tinnitus.
When Luke turned 21, however, he went to university, and it was here that he began to experience a loud buzzing sound in both of his ears. Unsure of what this sound was, he visited his GP in order to get some answers. The GP, after hearing Luke’s symptoms, immediately diagnosed tinnitus. Luke was told to avoid loud places (something rather difficult to do at university). However, the buzzing noise continued and eventually got so bad that Luke was kept awake at night. Luke knew exactly what had caused this – as the doctor had asked him whether he had been exposed to any unnaturally loud sounds for a period of time in his life so far. On leaving university, Luke decided to take some action against his former employer, he felt that he should receive compensation for the damage done to his ear drums. Luke claimed for compensation for tinnitus and received a sum of money to cover his injuries.