Ripe for reform: deafness claims
In the last 25 years, the UK has implemented two EU directives addressing directly the issue of noise in the workplace, reducing the action level to one where the risk of injury is really very low indeed. Other changes in relation to risk assessment, PPE and agents such as vibration have also improved the working environment.
Despite this, however, notifications of civil claims for damages have continued to surge in numbers. Actuarial estimates suggest 80,000 claims were made last year alone. The increase cannot be explained by demographics and appears to be the consequence of legal market forces.
A very high proportion of the claims fail which does nothing for public confidence in the process, and in any event, the administration of even failed claims represents a significant cost to business.
The creation of a ‘market’ in claims has also led to concerns over issues of fraud and how one decides what is or is not a genuine claim. In all respects, the process surrounding deafness claims is ripe for reform.
Ian Macalister will be speaking on noise induced hearing loss claims at the RoSPA Occupational Safety and Health Congress on Wednesday, 19 November. For more information, visit: www.rospa.com/events/congress
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