Acoustic Shock Case Study

Acoustic shock is a relatively new type of industrial accident that is often associated with poor quality audio equipment. One of the most common forms of acoustic shock occurs in call centres and is characterised by a sudden, loud and unexpected noise coming from the headset of a call centre worker. This can either be through an audio technology malfunction or potentially from a disgruntled customer shouting at the call centre worker.

The loudness and length of the audio shock can cause permanent damage to hearing and or tinnitus which can affect the sufferers’ quality of life and the ability to do their job as required.

British Telecom acoustic shock

The BBC reported in 2001 that BT paid £90,000 to one call centre worker that was suffering from acoustic shock and at the time of the article, a further 83 BT employees were pursuing claims for acoustic shock injuries.

Irwin Mitchell also reported that a client former BT worker had also received a 5 figure settlement in compensation for an acoustic shock injury which caused such severe tinnitus that the claimant was unable to continue her job at British Telecom.

Acoustic shock in the workplace

Clearly acoustic shock is a modern day issue that is of significant concern to many thousands of workers in the UK and worldwide that predominantly work long hours in call centres. When a person is exposed to an acoustic shock incident a hypersensitive neurological reflex (startle reflex) is activated and it can take some time for the reflex to revert to the normal state. It is thought that individuals that are suffering from stress will be more susceptible to acoustic shock incidents.

If you or a member of staff believe that an acoustic shock incident has occurred, it is likely that a range of the following symptoms may be displayed –

  • Anxiety
  • Ear pain
  • Facial numbness and tightening
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of pressure in the ear
  • Feelings of vulnerability
  • Headaches
  • Hearing problems
  • Soreness of the ear and/or neck
  • Tinnitus

If you have suffered from acoustic shock in the workplace it is important that you report this to your employer and seek medical advice. It may also be possible to make a claim for injury compensation should you be able to prove that the acoustic shock injury was caused due to negligence on behalf of your employer.

To discuss a possible claim for compensation including the amount of the injury award that you may be able to claim for, please call one of our friendly and knowledgeable claims advisors on 0800 122 3130.