MH&S Noise induced hearing loss and Silicosis
By Gareth Greathead
Noise induced hearing loss and silicosis seems to be accusations that employers have to deal with a lot more than previously. As such mines have put measures in place to keep their noise levels as close to, or below, the legal limits as possible. Despite these efforts there are still claims by employees that they are experiencing substantial hearing loss at mines. Courts are having difficulty in resolving these disputes to the satisfaction of employees and employers. The term “apportionment of damages” is used in an attempt to reach an agreement between the two parties.
Employers maintain there is no way to constantly monitor damage done to ones hearing and there is no way to determine where the damage was done. They are adamant they are being made to pay for damages for injury sustained in taxis on the way to work.
The issue also pertains to silicosis where a judgement needs to be made on the amount of damage caused while working at the mine. For instance an employees living conditions as well as smoking may have had an impact on the health of his lungs. In such an instance these need to be acknowledged by the court as contributing factors to poor health conditions. Moreover while employees have the equipment to protect their hearing and lungs they often they do not use it.
On the other side employees they are made to work in loud environments where they are at risk of silicosis. Although they are supplied with the equipment often they are not able to properly perform their duties while wearing the equipment. The job needs to be done and they are forced to put their health at risk to avoid a warning for inadequate performance.
In the end how much compensation you pay or receive depends largely on the skill of the legal representation that you hire. Both parties are doing all they can to exploit one another and a reasonable solution seems out of reach.
The problem is there is no way to unequivocally state where the damage occurred. As a result both mining companies and employees feel that they are being unfairly charged or compensated. Is your mine experiencing similar disputes and how are they being resolved?