The ability to hear is something that most of us take for granted. But did you know that one-in-six Australians have some form of hearing impairment, ranging from deafness to partial loss? The causes may be hereditary, illness, ageing and exposure to excessive noise, often within the workplace.
Since World Hearing Day on 3rd March 2018, Brenniston is taking the opportunity to remind Australians about the hazards of excessive noise at the workplace.
Australian workplaces are replete with hearing hazards:
- Between 28-32% of the Australian workforce are likely to work in environments where they are exposed to loud noise.
- The manufacturing and construction industries are the most common workplaces for noise-related injuries: from 2001/02 to 201415 over 35% of accepted deafness claims were made by employees in the manufacturing industry, and 18% came from construction.
- The primary cause leading to deafness is long-term exposure to sounds arising from working inside.
- In 2007/08 workers’ compensation payments came to $41 million, with an estimated cost to the Australian economy of around $240 billion.
Source: Safe Work Australia
Workplace injuries can be vastly reduced by:
- Purchasing the quietest machinery for the job and asking the supplier/manufacturer about noise levels
- Adjusting work practices, eg. glue instead of hammer, weld instead of rivet, place down instead of drop
- Using barriers, sound-proof covers and remote controls to isolate the source of noise
- Reducing exposure to excessive noise by restricting access to hazardous areas, providing quiet rest areas, rotating tasks or scheduling shifts to expose as few people as possible
- Maintaining equipment and tools to eliminate noisy faults
- Fitting equipment with silencers, adjusting speeds or lowering playback volume
Personal hearing protection is vital to safe workplace practice, but ear muffs and plugs shouldn’t be too heavily relied on if the risks of exposure can’t be eliminated or minimised by more effective measures.
Signs you may be experiencing hearing loss:
- Asking others to repeat themselves
- Having to raise the volume of the radio or TV
- Missing parts of conversations
- Experiencing a ringing sensation in the ear (tinnitus)
- Being told by others that you’re speaking loudly.
If you’re experiencing any of these indications, make an appointment to see your GP. They may refer you to an Audiologist (hearing specialist) or an ENT surgeon for further tests.
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