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Landmark compensation claim for musician with hearing loss

Posted on April 4th 2018

Chris Goldscheider’s landmark case against the Royal Opera House will have massive implications for the music industry and the health and safety of musicians.

The case is ground-breaking, as it is the first time a judge has analysed the music industry’s legal obligations to protect their musicians’ hearing. Continue reading to learn more about Mr Goldscheider’s hearing loss, the resulting hearing loss claim, and the impact on the industry.

Hearing loss:

Mr Goldscheider joined the viola section of the Royal Opera House (ROH) orchestra in 2002. On 1st September 2012, he was seated in front of the orchestra’s brass section to rehearse Wagner’s Die Walkure. During the rehearsal, the noise levels exceeded 130 decibels. 80 decibels is considered a tolerable noise limit for workers over an 8 hour work day. However, sounds louder than this can cause hearing damage. 100 decibels (dB) is the average volume of noise on a construction site, 110 dB at a nightclub, whereas 130 dB is equivalent to a jet engine. Exposure to loud noise kills the nerve endings in the inner ear and results in permanent hearing loss. Sadly, Mr Goldscheider’s hearing was irreversibly damaged. This opened the door for him to pursue a claim for noise induced hearing loss compensation.

The claim:

Mr Goldscheider claimed noise induced hearing loss compensation for acoustic shock. Acoustic shock results in symptoms which include: tinnitus, hyperacusis and dizziness. Mr Goldscheider’s hyperacusis means that even hearing normal sounds causes him incredible pain. Claiming hearing loss compensation for acoustic shock has proven controversial in recent years. This is because experts have debated whether it causes hearing loss.

The ROH argued that acoustic shock does not exist. They stated instead that Mr Goldscheider had developed an entirely natural hearing condition, known as Meniere’s disease, at the same time as the rehearsal. However, the judge concluded that this view was, “stretching the concept of coincidence too far.” The ROH continued that a balance had to be struck between preserving the artistic integrity of the music and protecting the musicians’ hearing. The judge disagreed once again stating, “Such a stance is unacceptable. Musicians are entitled to the protection of the law, as is any other worker.”

Mr Goldsheider is overjoyed at the Judge’s decision. The level of damages to be paid in his claim for noise induced hearing loss compensation are due to be assessed at a later date.

Impact of the judgement:

Clearly, this case is hugely significance for the music industry, who previously may have thought themselves exempt from regulatory requirements relating to hearing loss. The ROH and other orchestras/musical ensembles may now face further claims. Furthermore, they may now need to re-assess their policies around hearing protection.

The ROH stated, “we do not believe that the Noise Regulations can be applied in an artistic institution in the same manner as a factory… sound is not a by-product of an industrial process, but is an essential part of the product itself.”

Musicians and hearing loss:

Unfortunately, an increasing number of musicians suffer from noise-induced hearing loss. Sadly, musicians are four times more likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus than people working in other industries.

Could you claim for hearing loss?

At Oliver & Co our noise induced hearing loss specialist solicitors help people claim noise induced hearing loss compensation for their symptoms. These symptoms include tinnitus, and other hearing complaints caused by previous, excessive noise at work. We are proud to handle these claims on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis.

To learn more about hearing loss claims please click here.

For free advice about whether you may have a claim, please contact us today on 01244 312306 or email law@oliverandco.co.uk

Call and speak to a lawyer on 01244 312306