Hearing Loss – A Growing Issue in the Workplace

Hearing loss has become the most common work related injury/illness in many countries, and the numbers of sufferers aren’t decreasing. If you work in a noisy environment, you could be at risk of developing industrial deafness. Your employers are duty-bound by law to protect your hearing, but unfortunately many don’t. If you are affected, you can make a hearing loss claim for compensation. But, can money really makeup for your disabling injury?

Noises over an average of 85dB can cause hearing loss. A vacuum cleaner can produce noise levels up to 75dB(A), which shows it isn’t hard to achieve dangerous noise level. Deafness at work can be caused in two ways: constant frequent noise, or a singular incident which had extreme noise levels. One example could be an explosion of some sort. Hearing loss can also be caused naturally because of aging, disease, or infection. Noise-induced hearing loss can be identified because it specifically affects your hearing of high frequency sounds.

If you work in a loud environment, you should be provided with protection to avoid developing hearing loss. Ear plugs and ear muffs are the most common form of hearing protection. Each has its merits, depending on the situation and worker’s preference. Plugs are generally used when the exposure to noise is over a long period of time, due to their comfort and light weight. Muffs are generally better for short usage, and also usually offer more protection.

Personal hearing protection should actually be a secondary measure; the noise should be managed first at the source. This can be done by using newer equipment, making sure it is maintained and lubricated, as well as taking measures to avoid metal on metal contact. Other measures employers should take to avoid exposing workers to noise is to limit the time they need to be around the source. They should enclose the noise in sound proof areas, as well as attempt to find alternative methods. If a company fails to employ these measures they are breaking the law and risking claims for hearing loss compensation against them.

Deafness can be hard to notice as it will usually occur slowly over time. If you think you are experiencing hearing loss and need a check up, odds are you probably do. Many people think that this is just something that happens with age. This is not always the case, and you should take proper measures to find out if it was your place of employment that could have caused it. These are signs that may mean you have developed hearing loss:

  • Have you developed tinnitus which is a ringing, humming or buzzing in the ear?
  • Do you have to turn up the TV more than others need to?
  • Do you struggle to hear conversation when there is background noise?
  • Have you experienced missing the phone or doorbell ring?

Unfortunately the damage done by loud noise is usually irreversible, so preventing hearing loss is very important. If you work in construction, pubs & clubs, agriculture, demolition, factories or printing you could be at risk. There are many laws in place to defend you against industrial hearing loss, but unless properly enforced, you continue to be in danger of developing hearing loss.