Roberts Jackson sponsors Oldham to Gibraltar Charity Bike Ride

Roberts Jackson sponsors Oldham to Gibraltar Charity Bike Ride
Roberts Jackson sponsors Oldham to Gibraltar Charity Bike Ride

Roberts Jackson sponsors Oldham to Gibraltar Charity Bike Ride

Roberts Jackson sponsors Oldham to Gibraltar Charity Bike Ride
Roberts Jackson Solicitors are proud to be sponsoring a team of fire fighters named ‘Blazing Saddles’ who are taking on their fourth biking challenge, this time from Oldham to Gibraltar in just two weeks, from 14 to 28 July 2018.

The bike ride will involve a 1,600-mile trip from Oldham to Gibraltar, crossing the Pyrenees and stopping at Le Havre on the way to pay homage to fallen soldiers. The ride this year is called the 100 Year Bike Ride, referring to the centenary of the end of World War One and 100 years of the Fire Brigades Union.

The idea for Blazing Saddles came about following a personal tragedy by one of the Oldham firefighters. Several years later the team are in preparation for what will be their 4th and most ambitious charity ride. The first 3 rides have seen the team tackle the UK’s biggest peaks and cycled the distance between each one and in 2016 they cycled back to Oldham from Oldham’s twin town Kranj in Slovenia.

This year the Blazing Saddles are aiming to raise as much money as possible for four different charities. The Fire Fighters charity which supports past and present fire fighters and their families with health and well-being, rehabilitation and nursing services. MIND which provides advice and support for anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Sands – a charity that works to support anyone affected by the death of a baby; improve the care bereaved parents receive; and create a world where fewer babies die. Cyclists Fighting Cancer which enables children and young people living with cancer across the UK to regain their physical fitness, strength and confidence by giving them new bikes, adapted trikes, tandems, other equipment and support.

The Blazing Saddles have their very own website where you can see the route they are taking and meet the team. If you would like to donate to this fantastic cause, you can do so by visiting their Virgin Money Giving page here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/BlazingSaddles2

You can follow the team on Twitter as they head towards their biggest ride yet https://twitter.com/The100YearRide or just search their handle @The100YearRide

Deaf Awareness Week 2018 – understanding for those suffering hearing loss

Deaf Awareness Week 2018 – understanding for those suffering hearing loss
Deaf Awareness Week 2018 – understanding for those suffering hearing loss

Deaf Awareness Week 2018 – understanding for those suffering hearing loss

Deaf Awareness Week 2018
14 – 20 May 2018 is Deaf Awareness Week #DAW18.

Organised by the charity Action on Hearing Loss, the week aims to promote an understanding of what it is like to suffer hearing loss, and to encourage people to help others by speaking clearly without shouting.

It is believed that 11 million people in the UK suffer from hearing loss – that’s one in six of us – and this is estimated to increase to 15.6 million by 2035.

The most common cause of hearing loss is ageing. The second most common is noise-induced hearing loss, when someone is exposed to loud noise for long periods of time, often in a noisy workplace. Many people don’t experience the hearing loss until years after they were exposed to the excessive noise, making it hard to work out what caused it.

The Health & Safety Executive estimated that in 2016, 20,000 people working in Great Britain suffered from Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) caused or made worse by work.

Workers within such industries as construction and manufacturing as well as tradesmen and nightclubs are susceptible to hearing damage. Meanwhile, those who have been employed in shipyards, coalmines and textile mills may have also been exposed to a lot of noise pollution.

If provided with the correct safety equipment and procedures, workers are less likely to develop a hearing problem. However if adequate protection is not available, employees exposed to loud noise are at a higher risk of losing their hearing.

Temporary hearing loss or ringing in the ears (tinnitus) are early warning signs of noise induced hearing loss. If you suffer from these symptoms, we would recommend that you inform your employer as they can implement additional health and safety measures in order to prevent your hearing from worsening.

We would recommend that you visit your GP for an official diagnosis. They can refer you to a medical specialist, who will be able to identify your hearing problem and determine whether or not it has been caused by your working environment. Alternatively, you can get in contact with the Roberts Jackson team directly and we will organise a medical assessment on your behalf.

How do I claim for loss of hearing?

The claims process is simple and straightforward with Roberts Jackson. Once we have gathered all the information we need from you, a dedicated team will look after your claim from start to finish. We will also try to keep contact minimal, allowing you to stay up-to-date with the process while also giving you an opportunity to get your life back to normal.

For further information on pursuing a claim for compensation with us, visit our claim guide where we run through the process step-by-step.

How much compensation will I receive for noise induced hearing loss?

The compensation awarded to noise induced hearing loss sufferers can differ from person to person.

Roberts Jackson solicitors are dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome for all our claimants. The legal team will work hard to calculate and negotiate your payout to make sure that you are fully compensated for any pain and suffering, financial setbacks and medical treatment you face both now and in the future.

Can I still claim if my former employer or organisation is no longer trading?

You can still pursue a claim for compensation if the responsible organisation is no longer in business, as long as you are within the three year time limit. Our solicitors will get in contact with the insurance provider directly, who will be responsible for providing you with the compensation you deserve.

Furniture maker fined for dust exposure

Furniture maker fined for dust exposure
Furniture maker fined for dust exposure

Furniture maker fined for dust exposure

woodworker dust exposure

A furniture manufacturer based in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, has been fined after it left employees exposed to hardwood dust, a substance know to cause occupational asthma and nasal cancer.

An extraction fan in the workshop was discovered to be faulty when it was tested during an HSE inspection in 2016, and despite previous advice given by the HSE, the company was failing to ensure proper safety standards.

On 2 May, Adrena Furniture Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 7(1) and 9(2)(a) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 at Luton Magistrates’ Court and was fined £8,000.

HSE Inspector Sandra Dias said:

“Andrena Furniture Ltd was fully aware of the health and safety standards it needed to maintain. Breathing in dust can cause life-changing lung disease or make existing conditions worse. Thousands of people die from work-related lung diseases every year, often due to continued exposure over a long period of time.

“Everyone has the right to go home healthy from work and employers must do the right thing to protect their workers and ensure this happens.
“This case should serve as a warning to others that HSE takes seriously repeated breaches of health and safety law that exposes employees to health risks.”

Occupational Asthma is a common work-related condition among woodworkers due to wood dust particles in the air along with fumes from lacquer. These fumes not only cause difficulty to your breathing but have also been linked to kidney failure, nervous system damage and loss of vision.

It is possible to make a claim for a breathing problem that has been made worse by fumes that have been inhaled during working hours. Visiting your GP is the best way to establish what has caused your breathing condition or what has made a pre-existing condition worse but we would also advise you inform your employer so they can take measures to assist you and prevent further exposure.

Roberts Jackson Solicitors are on hand to provide FREE legal advice ranging from – running a No Win No Fee claim to assistance with state benefits that may be owed to you.

• Mild Asthma, Breathing Issues Up to £3,400
• Relatively Mild Symptoms £7,000 to £12,000
• Bronchitis and Wheezing £12,000 to £17,000
• Chronic Asthma £17,000 to £28,000
• Severe Disabling Asthma £28,000 to £43,000*

*All compensation amounts based on the Judicial College guidelines (formerly the Judicial Studies Board guidelines)

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Breast Screening Error – Patient Rights

Breast Screening Error – Patient Rights
Breast Screening Error – Patient Rights

Breast Screening Error – Patient Rights

Breast Screening Error
The House of Commons yesterday announced that an IT error within the NHS has led to 450,000 women in the UK between the ages of 68 and 71 missing invitations to attend breast screening appointments. The failings could have led to up to 270 women in England alone having their lives shortened according to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, with thousands of others missing the opportunity for earlier detection of tumours as the screening would detect tumours which were too small to see or feel.

The issue has most likely affected women between the ages of 70-79, and 309,000 people will now be offered catch up screenings. Women who have been affected are being advised that if they are concerned to contact a dedicated hotline on 0800 169 2692 and that they will receive a letter by the end of May.

A dedicated inquiry is being set up and will be chaired by Lynda Thomas, CEO of Macmillan Cancer Support and Professor Martin Gore from the Royal Marsden Hospital, who will report back in six months. The Government have apologised unreservedly for their error.

This is the second NHS failing that has been brought to light around women’s health within the last 18 months. The vaginal mesh scandal was recently brought to the public’s attention by the media when it emerged that many women who had undergone a childbirth-related procedure had suffered due to an implant that is aimed at permanently reinforcing the vaginal wall that is weakened during child birth.

What are a patient’s rights?

Public or private health organisations have a duty of care to their patients to ensure that they receive appropriate treatment at all times, so if there is clear evidence of delayed or incorrect diagnosis, unnecessary pain and suffering, surgical errors or mistakes that have led to early death, a claim may exist. The breast screening failures could have breached this duty and women affected leading to a late diagnosis.

Late diagnosis can cause unnecessary pain and suffering, anxiety and worry for the patient and their family. Patients may have undergone unnecessary treatment such as chemotherapy that could have been avoided. Detection at screenings may identify tumours that should be highlighted for further investigation and one in three cancer patients are over 70 years old but there are arguments in relation to the risks and benefits argument regarding treatment for patients who are over 70 years old. Based on the Health Secretary’s comments, it is evident that the issue has certainly led to lives being shortened in many cases.

Clinical negligence expert, Nimish Patel, of Roberts Jackson solicitors has commented on the recent failings:

“The early detection of breast cancer is vital and the likelihood of breast cancer increases above the age of 50 but women under the age of 70 are unable to request a screening themselves. The basis of the Age X trial was to offer screenings to women between the ages of 47 and 73 and in particular those who were potentially at risk, by letter every three years.

The NHS write to 2.5 million women every year and there are 2 million screenings as a result but Jeremy Hunt said that it was surprising that women had not come forward to ask about their letters. It should not be for the patient to request an invitation to a screening which ought to have been automatic. In these circumstances, the onus has been on vulnerable women between the ages of 70-79 to demand screenings when they were unaware that they may even be at risk which is wholly unreasonable.

One in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime and early detection would lead to non –invasive treatment which is more likely to be successful.”

World Asthma Day sees no reduction in instances of Occupational Asthma

World Asthma Day sees no reduction in instances of Occupational Asthma
World Asthma Day sees no reduction in instances of Occupational Asthma

World Asthma Day sees no reduction in instances of Occupational Asthma

World Asthma Day 2018
May 1 2018 is the 20th annual World Asthma Day, an event held each May to raise awareness of asthma worldwide. This year’s theme is “NEVER TOO EARLY, NEVER TOO LATE. It’s always the right time to address airways disease.”

It is estimated that there are two to three hundred new cases of occupational asthma seen by chest physicians each year in the UK, which is generally considered to be an underestimate of the true scale with many victims suffering silently. In the past ten years there has been no change in the number of cases. Occupational asthma is the most common cause of adult onset asthma and makes up 9 to 15 per cent of cases of asthma in adults of working age.

In some industries up to 10 per cent of employees develop occupational asthma.
Occupations with the highest rates of occupational asthma include baking, painting, healthcare, wood-working, agriculture, animal work and hairdressing.

Client wins £10,000 for workplace asthma

Roberts Jackson’s client was recently awarded £10,000 after his asthma was severely exacerbated by his work as a painter and decorator.

Having been diagnosed with asthma in 2003, our client’s symptoms escalated to chronic asthma due to his exposure at work. During his employment he used oil-based paints and a solvent-based window cleaner, both of which irritated his asthma. Working indoors with little ventilation only made matters worse. He transported these chemicals along with bleach and turpentine in his van but his employer refused to place a partition in his van to minimise his exposure to fumes. The claimant was forced to buy his own mask and fan after his employer provided inadequate equipment. The firm’s client found that his symptoms only improved when he was away from the work environment, indicating that this was clearly a case of occupational asthma.

Roberts Jackson’s associate who worked on the case, Kelsey Whitehouse, said the case supports the theme for this year’s World Asthma Day:

“As this case proves, it’s never too early and never too late for employers to meet the health and safety requirements expected of them. In this case if the employer had listened to the concerns of our client and provided him with adequate PPE (personal protective equipment), it could have saved our client so much pain and discomfort. With the number of cases of occupational asthma remaining static for 10 years, it’s clear that employers still don’t understand the risks and their duty to protect their workers.”

Considering alternative paths for Access to Justice in the future – Roberts Jackson open the door to Mediation

Considering  alternative paths for Access to Justice in the future - Roberts Jackson open the door to Mediation
Considering  alternative paths for Access to Justice in the future - Roberts Jackson open the door to Mediation

Considering alternative paths for Access to Justice in the future – Roberts Jackson open the door to Mediation

Roberts Jackson Mediators
Three of Roberts Jackson’s most experienced solicitors have added a new string to their bow. After training at UCLAN (The University of Central Lancashire) in Preston, Brian Robinson, Nimish Patel and Sam Harris are now qualified mediators.

Mediation as an alternative process to litigation in the UK is increasingly seen as an effective and less expensive form of dispute resolution. It is actively encouraged by the court system as a quicker, cheaper and less stressful way of settling disputes between parties in lots of different aspects of law. A pilot scheme was launched in Manchester on 1 September last year, encouraging parties to use mediation as a low-cost means of resolving disputes across the board and can be applied regardless of the size of damages involved..

The skills required by a mediator differ vastly from those of a litigator. Instead of the standard adversarial format of the courtroom, mediation covers the same facts but in a less emotional and stressful format, with both parties able to present their case calmly whilst the mediator takes time to listen to both sides. Roberts Jackson used mediation to great effect in two high value cases last year which both resolved due to negotiations.

Brian, an Associate Director at Roberts Jackson, explained:

“There’s no doubt that the judicial system sees mediation as the way forward. Judges, the High Court, the Court of Appeal, the Civil Justice Council, Lord Justice Jackson – all are keen for mediation to be considered as a first step in dispute resolution. Some litigators might be sceptical that mediation can work. I’d say be open-minded and give it a go. It’s a much less stressful process than litigation.”

Nimish, who is also an Associate Director, added:

“Courts are shutting and the judiciary want cases to be resolved out of court. The waiting lists to get heard are so long now – it makes sense to pursue a quicker, cheaper route. People are now taking degrees in law and mediation and it’s clear it’s the way forward. I conducted my first mediation as a mediator last month and am looking forward to doing many more”

Sam, who is a Senior Solicitor, added:

“ With the advent of fixed recoverable costs throughout Personal Injury litigation, I feel the time is right for a culture change from practitioners in the PI arena to consider the greater use of mediation in suitable cases. The days of dismissing mediation out of hand are over. The Courts are promoting the concept to practitioners increasingly. The advantages of quick, flexible and cost-effective settlements can benefit both Claimants and Defendants. I am now actively considering mediation in relation to my own cases where I believe it would benefit the Claimant and I am looking forward to expanding in my role as a mediator into a range of legal areas outside my usual practice.”

Roberts Jackson are now looking into potentially establishing a way to offer the services of our mediators in order to utilise their years of litigation experience.

Roberts Jackson Solicitors Appoint New CEO

Roberts Jackson Solicitors Appoint New CEO
Roberts Jackson Solicitors Appoint New CEO

Roberts Jackson Solicitors Appoint New CEO

Rachael Charmbury - Roberts Jackson CEO
Roberts Jackson Solicitors are proud to welcome Rachael Charmbury, who has been appointed the firm’s new CEO, as part of a major expansion plan. The news comes as the firm commits to invest £750,000 in technology to develop a market-leading platform which will enhance the client’s experience with Roberts Jackson Solicitors.

Rachael Charmbury was a practicing lawyer from 1991 to 2003 working with the international law firm Squire Patton Boggs. She joins with 20 year’s experience working in the legal sector bringing a whole new perspective to the firm after having acted on behalf of both claimants and defendant insurers in personal injury cases.

Rachael previously led the de-merger of two litigation units during her time at Squire Patton Boggs in 2003, taking over the newly de-merged firm as chief executive and becoming an equity partner.

Rachael Charmbury said: “Roberts Jackson has developed a leading reputation for delivering expert support in the realm of industrial disease.

“I am delighted to join the firm as we commit to investing in technology to further improve our client offer, and I look forward to working with the expert team of legal professionals to support even more clients with their claims.”

Paul Hewitt, Chairman at Roberts Jackson, said: “Rachael has an outstanding track record of delivering innovative solutions to the businesses she has worked with.

“We are delighted to welcome her to the team as we look to enhance our support to customers through technology, and are confident we will continue to provide the best possible services as a result.

“Since establishing the firm, Roberts Jackson has grown into a business of scale, and has been recognised by the legal community for its excellent work in supporting thousands of people with their claims.”

Housing Associations in Wales need to do more to protect workers from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Housing Associations in Wales need to do more to protect workers from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
Housing Associations in Wales need to do more to protect workers from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Housing Associations in Wales need to do more to protect workers from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome

Housing Builder HAVs

A second community housing association in Wales has been fined for mismanaging risks of injury to its employee’s just months after another Welsh housing association was fined £100,000 for the same failure.

Newport Magistrates’ Court fined Tai Calon Community Housing £30,000 for failing to protect employees from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) over a prolonged period of time. The Court heard that the association’s employees were routinely exposed to vibration between July 2010 and May 2015. Only when the organization introduced health surveillance in May 2015 were several workers diagnosed with HAVS.

The HSE found that there had not been sufficient risk assessment, surveillance or training and the association was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974. In addition to the £30,000 fine, it was ordered to pay £2,789.25 in costs.

HSE inspector Paul Newton said: “No one’s health should be made worse by the work they do. In this case, if Tai Calon had understood why health surveillance was necessary, it would have ensured that it had the right systems in place to monitor its workers’ health.

“This prosecution highlights the health risks from using vibratory tools and the importance of employers having a health surveillance programme in place. Where vibratory tools are used, employers should monitor the health of employees using them and ensure appropriate systems are in place to manage and control the risk from vibration.”

Bigger housing association fine in South Wales in December

In December 2017 a South Wales Housing Association was also fined for exposing workers to HAVS. Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court heard how Charter Housing Association Ltd also discovered the injuries to six employees after the introduction of a health surveillance programme in June 2015.

The HSE found that workers had been exposed to vibration from tools on a daily basis and that employees were not adequately trained.

Charter Housing Association Ltd (now part of Pobl Group Ltd) of High Street, Newport pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. The company was fined £100,000 and was ordered to pay costs of £9,896.88.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Joanne Carter said:

“An individuals’ health should not be made worse by the work they do. If Charter Housing had correctly implemented its health surveillance earlier, it would have ensured the right systems were in place to monitor workers’ health. The six affected employees’ conditions may have been prevented from developing or developing to a more severe stage.

“How people work today can affect their health and wellbeing tomorrow. This case serves as an important reminder of the necessity of task based risk assessments to establish the level of exposure, control measures to reduce that exposure to as low as is reasonably practicable and effective health surveillance systems. In the case of Charter Housing this realisation came too late.

“All employers need to do the right thing to protect workers’ health.”

What is HAVS?

Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome is the medical term for symptoms caused by the excessive use of vibratory hand-held or hand guided power tools and machines. The excessive use of vibratory tools can cause damage to the nerves, blood vessels and joints of the hand, wrist and arm.

Workers deserve compensation

Nimish Patel, Associate Director and Head of HAVS Department at Roberts Jackson, said:

“It’s clear from the figures involved in these fines that the HSE deems the failures in both of these cases to be significant. People suffering from HAVS can continue to suffer from numbness and tingling for the rest of their lives and once the blood stops flowing to the end of their fingers it becomes a regular reminder of the damage. There’s no doubt in my mind that they should pursue legal action against these housing associations, and it’s time housing associations learned to act upon the signs highlighted from their monitoring as soon as possible in order to protect their employees. “

NHS still not picking up signs of deadly sepsis

NHS still not picking up signs of deadly sepsis
NHS still not picking up signs of deadly sepsis

NHS still not picking up signs of deadly sepsis

Sepsis

In a news story that will not surprise the thousands of people affected by sepsis every year, it was reported this month that a mother lost all of her limbs after medical staff failed to notice the signs of a condition that kills 44,000 people every year in the UK. Sepsis occurs when the body’s immune system goes into overdrive as it tries to fight an infection. Early signs of the condition include a fever, chills, fast breathing and a fast heartbeat.

On 22 December 2014, an NHS patient was told by doctors that she had suffered a miscarriage at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital. She was sent home in pain and bleeding only to return to hospital on Christmas Day in increasing agony. She was told she had suffered an ectopic pregnancy requiring urgent surgery to remove the affected fallopian tube and unviable foetus. While in recovery from the emergency operation, she developed extensive limb ischaemia, a condition which requires urgent action. Her condition deteriorated after she developed gangrene and her body tissue began to die. The hospital later admitted that staff had failed to follow their own sepsis protocol and had not recognized the classic symptoms of the condition caused by a loss of blood supply.

A recent BBC Panorama investigation found that NHS staff were failing to pick up the signs of the condition in half of patients. Recent figures suggest that one in four NHS trusts is failing to give antibiotics to half their patients with sepsis within the recommended time. The NHS advises that antibiotic treatment should begin within an hour of diagnosis to reduce the risk of serious complications or death. Doctors and nurses often fail to distinguish sepsis symptoms from those of more minor viral conditions.

The lady is still recovering from her harrowing experience. She is adapting to the loss of her limbs and is now suing the hospital.

Sepsis Statistics

• 44,000 people in the UK die from sepsis every year.
• Every 3.5 seconds someone in the world dies from sepsis.
• Shockingly, sepsis is the biggest direct cause of death in UK pregnancies.
• Sepsis is responsible for more deaths in the UK than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined.

Do you have a sepsis claim?

Sepsis is easily treatable with antibiotics if discovered early enough. Any delay can cause multiple organ failure or death. If you had sepsis and believe it was misdiagnosed or wasn’t spotted soon enough, you could have a claim.

We all expect to receive a certain standard of care from medical experts and trust that they will treat us in an entirely correct, safe manner. However, mistakes and errors do sometimes occur and the consequences can be serious, traumatic and even life threatening.

If you have suffered from an illness or injury that has been caused or worsened by a medical professional breaching their duty of care, you may be entitled to medical negligence compensation.

DO YOU HAVE A VALID MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIM?

If you have been a victim of medical negligence which has caused you additional suffering or pain, Roberts Jackson Solicitors may be able to help you claim compensation.
Below are some of the common questions we ask to determine whether you have a valid claim.

• Was your medical or clinical treatment in the last three years?
• Are you now suffering due to this negligence?
• Do you believe the medical professional could have acted in a way that would have prevented your injury or pain?

The list above is only a brief indication of whether you have a valid claim, however if you have answered yes to any of the above we suggest you contact us for free legal advice on the next steps to take.

TYPES OF MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE CLAIMS

Roberts Jackson solicitors have a high level of experience handling medical negligence claims for patients who have been unnecessarily harmed by medical practitioners. Our legal team find that they most commonly deal with cases related to:

• Delayed or misdiagnosis
• Ignorance of significant symptoms
• Failure to properly read and analyse patient history, notes and x-rays
• Incorrect treatment, including medication or surgery mistakes
• Failure of a medical product

Whatever type of medical or clinical negligence you have suffered, we can help you to achieve medical negligence compensation for any financial or medical setback that has been caused.

EXPERT MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE LEGAL SERVICE

If you believe that you have a medical negligence claim, seek specialist legal advice from Roberts Jackson Solicitors.

The highly trained team have a full understanding of this complex legal area and will be able to advise you on the best course of action. If we decide to take on your claim, our solicitors will then investigate the incident, gather evidence and seek expert opinions to create a strong medical negligence claim, so that you can achieve the medical negligence compensation you deserve.
Whether you are looking to make a brain injury, misdiagnosis or dental negligence claim, contact us on 0800 001 4496 to find out more about how to claim with Roberts Jackson.

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Landmark workplace hearing loss win for Opera House musician

Landmark workplace hearing loss win for Opera House musician
Landmark workplace hearing loss win for Opera House musician

Landmark workplace hearing loss win for Opera House musician

Acoustic Shock Musician
In a decision that has sent shockwaves through the music industry, a judge has found that a viola player suffered ‘acoustic shock’ when rehearsing Wagner’s Die Walkure in 2012, and that the Royal Opera House is responsible for a £750,000 compensation claim.

The ruling, the first of its kind for the injury known as acoustic shock has implications for the health and safety of musicians and the responsibility of their employers to protect them. It has also caused controversy with some, including the Royal Opera House, claiming that acoustic shock does not exist.

Acoustic shock is an involuntary response to a sound perceived as traumatic, which causes aural pain, tinnitus, hyperacusis, muffled hearing, vertigo and other symptoms such as numbness or burning sensations around the ear.

Christopher Goldscheider, a viola player, claimed he was exposed to acoustic shock when the 18-strong brass section played a loud blast when he was sitting directly in front of them. The noise levels exceeded 130 decibels, roughly equivalent to that of a jet engine and Mr Goldscheider’s hearing was permanently damaged.

Mr Goldscheider claimed his life was completely transformed, with normal sounds causing him great discomfort. He can no longer play or listen to music, a huge loss to him professionally and personally, especially as his son is a bright light in music and a highly talented French horn player.

Crucially for the music industry, Mrs Justice Davies put the responsibility of the health and safety of musicians lay squarely with management. He said that “the reliance upon artistic value implies that statutory health and safety requirements must cede to the needs and wishes of the artistic output of the Opera company, its managers and conductors. Such a stance is unacceptable. Musicians are entitled to the protection of the law, as is any other worker.”

Help Musicians UK, the leading UK charity for professional musicians, emphasised the danger of working as a musician:

“The unfortunate circumstances surrounding Chris’s tragic hearing loss reflect a growing number of hearing related issues, as highlighted in our 2015 hearing survey, where 59.5% of musicians said they had suffered hearing loss and 78% said working as a musician was a contributor to their hearing loss.”

Do you have hearing problems which could have been caused or exacerbated by your workplace? Contact 0800 001 4496