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The Information Centre for Occupational Hearing Conservation

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Acoustic Shocks & Liability
These are real recordings of a conversation between a call centre operator and their customer who are just about to experience Acoustic Shock, and you are about to hear the sound.

WARNING: Do NOT listen to this files with a headset - only through PC or laptop speakers
Employers Liability & Legal
"Call Centre Operators are in danger of becoming the modern victims of Noise at Work, in a study we conducted; 39% of Operators were concerned that their hearing was being damaged as a result of noise exposure at work, 30% said that work tasks left them with Tinnitus. They said that little information about noise at work was available, let alone Acoustic Shock and that their employers never offered them a hearing test."
Keith Broughton - Former Principal Specialist Inspector (Noise & Vibration).
"Damages flow from a breach of the employer's duty of care to a worker, or from a breach of similar duty under the contract of employment or a breach of statutory duty. Most cases are litigated as breaches of duty in negligence. The duty owed is said to be three fold: to supply safe tools, equipment and plant (headsets, noise limitation devices, etc?), to supply a safe place of work, and to supply a safe system of work The supply of inadequate headsets (or limitation and prevention devices) will be a breach of the duty of care. The role of headsets (and other relevant equipment) will be a prime issue in the common law area.
John Bingham QC - ASI and Damages at Common Law, and Workers Compensation
  • Legal Duties - 'You have a legal duty under the Noise Regulations to reduce the risk of damage to your employees' hearing.'
  • Noise Assessment - 'If any of your employees is likely to be exposed to the first or peak action level or above, you must arrange for a competent person to assess the actual level of noise exposure. A competent person should know how to carry out a noise assessment in the particular circumstances of the workplace - the ability to do the job properly and to know their limits is more important than formal qualifications' and in this case Acoustic Shock.
  • Information, Instruction and Training - 'Where your employees are likely to be exposed at or above any of the action levels you are required to provide information, instruction and training.'
  • Employee and safety Representatives - 'Consulting with trade union-appointed safety representatives or other employee representatives is a legal requirement.'
  • Health Surveillance - 'Under the Management of health and safety at Work Regulations 1999, employees exposed to hazards such as high noise levels should be provided with appropriate health surveillance.'
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