Is it possible to claim compensation for acoustic shock injuries caused by faulty telephone headsets at work? What do I need to do in order to make a claim?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Question:

Is it possible to claim compensation for acoustic shock injuries caused by faulty telephone headsets at work? What do I need to do in order to make a claim?

Answer:

You can claim compensation for acoustic shock injuries at work if it can be proven that your injuries were caused by your employer´s negligence. However, your eligibility to make a claim for compensation for acoustic shock injuries can be placed in jeopardy if you do not follow the correct procedures after you sustain a hearing injury at work. In the case of acoustic shock injuries many victims do not seek immediate medical attention. However it is important that you visit a doctor as a matter of urgency when you have sustained an acoustic shock injury. Not only do your injuries need to be checked, your medical records must be updated with details of your injury.

You must also alert your employer to the accident to allow action to be taken. If faulty headsets are being used in the workplace it is vital that your employer is made aware of the problem and allowed to take action to prevent other employees being injured. Acoustic shock can result in permanent hearing damage and, to prevent other employees from sustaining an acoustic shock injury, you should submit a complaint in writing and make a report in your employer’s accident book.

Although it is not possible to prevent electrical feedback on telephone lines or to stop high-pitched and loud noises such as from fax machines, employers are able to take steps to reduce the severity of these noises and to take action to ensure that the risk of acoustic shock is reduced to the minimum possible level. A failure to take appropriate steps to reduce the risk to employees is negligence and is grounds for claiming acoustic shock injury compensation against an employer.

Modern headsets include acoustic limiters which restrict loud noises above 118 decibels from being transmitted through headsets to the ear drums. Acoustic limiters have only been used since the early 1990s, and while major manufacturers feature these devices, many low cost headset suppliers do not include this technology. The majority of compensation claims for acoustic shock injuries are the result of employers cutting corners and supplying low quality or faulty headsets to staff.

It is your employer’s responsibility to ensure that staff are properly protected in the workplace. Failure to conduct risk assessments in the workplace, train staff on the correct use of headphones to prevent acoustic shock injuries or the provision of old or substandard headsets is classed as employer negligence and acoustic shock injury claims will be possible should an injury be sustained as a direct result.

Claiming compensation for acoustic shock injuries can be complicated by the fact that many employers are not aware of the seriousness of the injuries. It is therefore strongly advisable to speak with a personal injury solicitor about claiming compensation for acoustic shock injuries. Your potential claim for compensation for acoustic shock injuries will be assessed and using a solicitor to pursue your acoustic shock injuries claim will help to maximise your chances of recovering your full entitlement to acoustic shock injuries compensation.