Hearing loss and tinnitus, being invisible and usually progressive, are often not noticed until well advanced, by which time the probability of there being any effective treatment is exceedingly low.
However, the link between high noise levels and hearing loss has been known about for decades, so employers who fail to take adequate steps to protect those who work in a noisy environment whose hearing is damaged as a result can be liable to pay damages.
Recently, a BT engineer whose work history had for many years involved the use of amplifiers and oscillators received a settlement for the resultant hearing loss and tinnitus that now blight his life.
The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 require employers to take specific action at certain noise levels, yet there are many industries in which poor hearing protection practices continue. As well as environments traditionally thought of as noisy, such as factories, the noise levels outdoors when workers are using vibrating or drilling machinery can easily exceed the legal limits.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that 17,000 people in the UK suffer from hearing issues caused by exposure to excessive noise levels at work. Detailed information on noise at work can be found on the HSE's website.