Noise induced hearing loss in Great Britain

Important note

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the government’s response has impacted recent trends in health and safety statistics published by HSE and this should be considered when comparing across time periods. More details can be found in our reports on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on health and safety statistics.

This summary presents statistics based on annual new assessments for IIDB up to and including year 2021. Assessments of new IIDB cases in 2020 were affected by the coronavirus pandemic and may also have been affected to some extent during 2021.


Estimated number of workers with work-related hearing problems, 2019/20 to 2021/221

Source: LFS


New cases of occupational deafness in 2021

Source: IIDB

Year Occupational deafness
2010 195
2011 150
2012 125
2013 120
2014 130
2015 100
2016 90
2017 70
2018 55
2019 95
2020* 20
2021* 10

Source: Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB)

Gender Cases of occupational deafness
Men 805
Women 5

Male / Female split of new cases for occupational deafness from 2012 to 2021

  • Over the last ten years, five of the 810 cases were female.
  • Differences are likely to reflect smaller numbers of women having worked in jobs that meet the eligibility criteria for this condition.

More information on Noise Induced Hearing Loss in Great Britain

There is limited information available on work-related noise induced hearing loss. The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is HSE's preferred data source and the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) scheme is a further source of information. These sources present very different estimates.

The LFS provides the estimated number of prevalent cases of self-reported work-related 'hearing problems', which includes both new and longstanding cases:

There were an estimated 11,000 (95% confidence interval: 7,000 – 14,000) prevalent cases of hearing problems each year caused or made worse by work according to the LFS over the last three years (2019/20 – 2021/22). This was statistically significantly lower than the figure of 21,000 (95% confidence interval: 15,000 – 26,000) for the previous three-year period (2016/17 – 2018/19).

The IIDB figures include only annual new claims and these are based on a much stricter definition of ‘deafness’ in which claimants must have a substantial measured loss of hearing in both ears (greater than 50 dB). 
The IIDB scheme will also tend to underestimate annual incidence for other reasons, including:

  • Cases arising from circumstances other than those covered by the terms of the prescription;
  • Individuals being unaware of the possible occupational origin of their disease;
  • A lack of knowledge regarding the availability of compensation; and
  • The scheme not including self-employed workers.

Hence, the LFS is the preferred source to judge the overall scale of the condition.

More information on the strengths and limitations of the LFS and IIDB as data sources is available on the HSE statistics website.

More information:


  1. Includes workers with new and longstanding hearing problems. Estimated using three years of the Labour Force Survey from 2018/19 to 2020/21. Back to reference of footnote 1

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Updated 2023-02-15