Advice worth listening to

26 July 2018

It’s essential to protect your employees hearing and avoid Noise-Induced Hearing Loss claims Laura Jenkins.

AFTER THE government introduced fixed compensation fees for whiplash claims, Claims Management Companies (CMCs) looked elsewhere to replace their lost revenue, enter Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). Between 2011 and 2014 NIHL claims notified with insurers increased by 189% but of these only around 30% were successful with the remainder classed as spurious and frivolous.

Since then, data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows a general reduction in the number of new claims for work-related deafness in the UK. This is due in part to the majority of historic cases for industrial deafness having now been reported and also, in part, to the threat of the introduction of fixed legal fees for NIHL meaning that adept CMCs are busy pursuing their next lucrative claims area.

Claimants have to be able to prove their hearing loss occurred at work and provide evidence that their employer has been negligent. Judges have thrown many claims out of court due to this lack of evidence. It appears that as companies become more aware of the risks noise poses they begin to control it better, and in doing so keep better records so evidence of negligence in this regard is getting harder to find.

The high rate of failure isn’t currently going to put the lawyers off though. The disproportionate fees some no-win no-fee lawyers can charge their clients (up to 50% of any compensation awarded) more than makes up for the cases they lose. On average for every £1 paid out in compensation £3 is paid out in legal costs, making it still a highly lucrative area.

Example CMCs current guideline valuations for NIHL compensation

Level of HL

Compensation (excluding leagal fees


£4,750 – 8,000


£8,000 - 9,500


£9,500 – 19,000


£19,000 –36,850

Total deafness

£73,315 – 88,660

Introduction of fixed fees likely

In 2015 The Civil Justice Council set up a working group to make recommendations to the UK Government on how to improve the handling of NIHL claims. The report was completed in September 2017 and included a review of how a fixed costs regime for claims might be implemented. Under the fixed costs proposed the maximum legal costs per defendant would be set at £9,187.

This would reduce the number of solicitors encouraging people to make claims, prevent them from running up excessive legal costs and continue the downward trend in reported claims.

A formal response from the Government is pending but it is likely to implement the recommendations in 2019.

While this is good news on the face of it, this does not give employers carte blanche to ignore noise problems and the threat to their employees’ auditory health. As an employer you are still legally and morally responsible for controlling noise in the workplace and protecting your employees hearing. Indeed someone losing their hearing is a very serious health and safety issue and these reforms will ensure that genuine claimants receive fair compensation for any loss in a more efficient manner.

As a guide employers should:

  • Train H&S staff in correct measurement and reporting of noise;
  • Carry out noise surveys with a compliant noise meter (such as the Pulsar Nova) to identify problem areas;
  • Demonstrate they are doing everything to reduce noise at source;
  • Identify staff at risk by using personal noise dosemeters (such as the Pulsar NoisePen);
  • Survey the auditory health of employees at risk;
  • Provide the correct level of hearing protection; and
  • Keep proper records

A free Guide for Employers 5 Steps to Controlling Noise at Work is available on Pulsar Instruments’ website to help companies further understand and carry out their legal responsibilities.

While we are already starting to hear rumours that the no-win no-fee lawyers are starting to look elsewhere, until the implementation of fixed costs the current compensation claims culture is still alive. So by taking control of noise in the workplace and continuing to protect your employees’ hearing you continue to protect your business too.

Laura Jenkins is marketeer at Pulsar Instruments. For more information, visit


1 Source Association of British Insurers (2015) Tackling the Compensation Culture: Noise Induced Hearing Loss Claims.

2 Under the proposed fixed costs for NIHL the maximum costs for one defendant if the claim goes to court is £9,187, for two defendants £10,724 and three £12,261.

3 Source: Civil Justice Council (2017). Fixed costs in Noise Induced Hearing Loss Claims: Final report of the Civil Justice Council Working Party.