Industrial deafness, also known was ‘occupational deafness’ or ‘noise induced hearing loss’, is one of the most common occupational illnesses. It is caused when people are subjected to high levels of noise in a working environment without utilising suitable hearing protection. This is often caused by repeated exposure to loud machinery over an extended period of time and can present serious risks to human hearing
There are certain responsibilities required of your employer if you work in a noisy environment. The specific regulations that employers must adhere to is the General Application Regulations 2007, Chapter 1 of Part 5: Control of Noise at Work. It requires that employers must prevent or reduce the risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work. If you are concerned about aspects of possible industrial deafness in your workplace, you can look to the following factors to attempt to mitigate the risks.
If a risk assessment indicates that there are workstations within the place of work where employees are likely to be exposed to noise above 85 decibels, an employer shall—
(a) Display mandatory warning signs to convey information that
(i) The noise levels at those workstations are likely to exceed that upper exposure action value, and (ii) hearing protectors are available and must be worn, and
(b) Ensure that the workstations are protected from unauthorised access by barriers or other suitable means that are technically feasible and justified by the risk of exposure.
Be alert to some of these warning signs, which could suggest that you’ve been exposed to hazardous noise:
- You hear ringing or buzzing (tinnitus) in your ears after exposure to noise.
- You notice that you can hear people talking, but you have difficulty understanding them, after exposure to noise.
- You experience “fullness” in your ears after leaving a noisy area.
How to Protect Yourself
- Ensure that any hearing protection supplied by your employer is used correctly and at the correct times (when the upper noise exposure levels are reached).
- Ear defenders, ear plugs, and semi-aural inserts are common forms of ear protection that should be used in upper noise level exposure circumstances.
- Workers exposed to high levels of noise should be correctly trained to use hearing protection equipment.
- Look towards having the workplace layout optimised so that noisy and quieter processes are kept separate from each other.
- Ensure that regular noise level risk assessments are conducted in the workplace.
- Do not stay in areas of high levels of noise for any longer than necessary
For more detailed information and your rights at work, check out Citizens Information.
It is important to get your hearing tested if you have any concerns. Hidden Hearing provides professional hearing evaluation and hearing aids for all patients. If you have any questions about hearing loss contact Hidden Hearing on Freephone 1800 370 000.