What is an 'acoustic shock'?

An 'acoustic shock' is a freak sound burst on a telephone headset, which can leave the call handler in severe pain. They can be deliberate or accidental. The likely causes of freak sound bursts on headsets include:

  • electronic sounds from fax machines;
  • random electronic impulses;
  • customers tapping into a handset; and
  • malicious acts, e.g. customers blowing a whistle down the phone.

Acoustic shock can leave you with long-term hearing damage, including finding it difficult to tolerate certain types and levels of sound. A BT employee won £90,000 in compensation after suffering acoustic shock at a BT telephone exchange. He was supported by his union, the CWU. He now suffers from tinnitus.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.