Hearing loss is an issue that many people have to face at some point in their life. Research has shown that 50% of the population will suffer from some form of deafness in their life time. There are many causes and natural hearing loss due to age is the most common. This being said though, there are many people mistaking noise induced hearing loss caused by their work for this. Your employer has a legal obligation to protect your hearing and if they don’t they are liable to claims of compensation. Unfortunately there are many people who are not aware of the risks and unknowingly develop issues due to noisy environments.
It is understandable that ageing and noise induced hearing loss are mistaken for the same thing as they both take years to slowly develop. Years of exposure to sounds of a dangerous level will slowly deteriorate someone’s hearing and it maybe old age before the signs are obvious.
It is possible to identify the two forms as industrial deafness only affects the high frequency sounds of your hearing, natural loss will show loss across the whole spectrum. This loss is established by a hearing test and the resulting audio-gram. The graph which displays your hearing capacity at each frequency will show a significant drop just in the high frequencies.
One of the reasons people don’t know they are at risk is many believe only extreme noises such as explosions can cause hearing loss. This isn’t the case as noises from 85dB have the capability to lead to deafness. To put this into context, a hair-dryer can reach this level so you can picture many people work in environments of this volume and more.
Your hair-dryer won’t make you deaf using it for a few minutes a day, time of exposure is also a factor. A noise of 85dB will become dangerous after 8 hours of exposure. As the volume is increased, the time needed to cause hearing loss is significantly reduced. With every 5dB increase the time is actually halved. This means a jackhammer of 110dB can cause hearing loss in a matter of minutes.
If you work in an environment with noise of 85dB or more you should be protected. This is a legal requirement and a company would be subject tohearing loss compensation if they failed to do so. There are two main ways to provide protection.
- Deal with the noise at source. This should be the first action taken as it prevents workers from being exposed to noise at all. It can be achieved by purchasing new machinery, avoiding metal on metal contact, lubricant, sound proofing and moving staff or equipment away from each other.
- Personal Protection. There are two main forms; ear plugs and muffs. Ear plugs are small, light and comfortable to wear. This makes them perfect for longer use. Ear muffs aren’t as comfortable but offer more protection so are used for short exposure.
The best form of protection is to avoid noise all together whether it be in work or out. This isn’t always possible but hopefully this article would have given you some useful information and show that more people are at risk of hearing loss than you think.
Author Bio; Chris Evans – Atrium Legal
Atrium run a workers health blog to hopefully help people avoid injury and illness in the workplace. Hearing loss is one of their specialists areas as thousands of workers are exposed to noise everyday. Atrium also offer legal assistance to workers seeking hearing loss compensation as they are already showing signs of deafness.