Court Ruling Looks Set to Turn Down the Volume on Noise Induced Hearing Loss Claims

Last week the House of Lords allowed (by a majority of 3 to 2) the appeal of Quantum Clothing Group Limited and others from the Court of Appeal's previous decision, restoring the original Judgment of HH Judge Inglis in Baker v Quantum Clothing Group Limited & Others.

This case concerned the potential hearing loss suffered by employees working in the knitting industry in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire following exposure to noise levels of between 85 and 90dB(A).

Where the noise exposure is 85dB(A) or above, and the employer does have such specific knowledge, a period of two years was allowed by the Court in which to devise and implement a system of hearing protection.

In this case it was held that Meridian and Pretty Polly (two of the companies in question) did have specific knowledge of the risk to hearing loss as a result of noise of 85dB(A) or above and that they were therefore in breach of duty two years after they acquired this specific knowledge. However the House of Lords allowed Quantum Clothing Group Limited's appeal ruling that they did not in fact have such specialist knowledge.

The consequence of this case is likely to be that Claimants seeking to bring Noise Induced Hearing Loss claims will have to meet this further threshold of proving the employer had had specific knowledge for 2 years prior to exposure where the exposure amounts to between 85 and 90dB(A).