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23 April 2021 | Comment |

The Sound of Metal: turning up the volume on noise-induced hearing loss

The Oscar for Best Picture has been awarded to films exploring a range of different themes during the previous 92 Academy Awards ceremonies, from last year’s winner Parasite to Forrest Gump. It is not very common, however, to see the issue of hearing loss addressed as a central theme in cinema.

The Sound of Metal is a film that does just this and is nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, at this year’s event on 25 April. It charts the story of Ruben Stone (played by British actor Riz Ahmed), a drummer in a heavy metal duo who suffers damage to his hearing through performing.

In the film, Ruben is advised by a medical professional to avoid exposure to excessive noise but ignores this advice and continues to perform in loud environments. Throughout the film, we see his hearing deteriorate to the point that his partner, Lou, has to communicate with him through written messages.

While this is an extreme example, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can often have a huge impact on someone’s quality of life. This is especially so when NIHL is linked to tinnitus – often described as a ringing or buzzing sound in your ears.

Exposure to excessive noise levels can cause permanent hearing damage, often without the sufferer being aware of it until it is too late.

NIHL can clearly be caused by prolonged exposure to loud noise as a musician, but there are a multitude of other occupations where it is vital that employees are protected from excessive exposure to noise, including in the military.

Hugh James provides specialist legal services to current and ex-military personnel suffering with hearing loss as a result of hearing damage, caused by a failure to provide adequate ear protection against noise from:

  • gun and artillery fire
  • mortars
  • explosions
  • pyrotechnics
  • aircraft noise
  • vehicle engine noise

If your hearing problems are due to long-term exposure to excessive noise whilst in service, you might be entitled to compensation. NIHL and tinnitus caused by military equipment can be debilitating and can affect all aspects of life – yet they are avoidable. In military circles, people have known about them for decades, but many sufferers prefer to remain silent, often out of loyalty towards their regiment or the MoD.

An estimated 300,000[1] ex-armed forces personnel in the UK suffer from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and tinnitus. When speaking to our clients who have suffered hearing loss and tinnitus as a result of exposure to excessive noise in the armed forces, we often find that they are not always aware of the extent of their hearing loss until they leave service and return to a quieter environment.

If you’ve suffered hearing damage during your time in service – past or present – our team is ready to listen. Get in touch with our specialist Military Team today. We can help you take the next steps in investigating whether you have a civil claim for your injuries. Our initial advice is free, and we could even represent you on a no win, no fee basis.

[1] The Royal British Legion Lost Voices Report 2014

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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