There are many illnesses and injuries that occur in the workplace but most have a very evident effect. Industrial Deafness can be caused over long periods of time with the damage and symptoms not being obvious. As hearing loss occurs naturally with age, most people just put it down to this. The deafness that occurs with age affects a different part of your hearing than noise induced hearing loss that is caused from the loud environment at work. Because of this the hearing loss can be identified as being caused by your noisy job.
The damage done to your hearing at work is irreversible so can have a big impact on your life. Industrial Hearing Loss is caused by exposure to noises over 80 decibels for extended periods of time. This isn’t hard to achieve when you consider that a food blender from 2ft is 80dBA. Occupations such as construction, pubs & clubs, printing and manufacturing all have high noise levels and if your not protected you could damage your health.
Your employer by law has to protect your hearing and should provide sufficient hearing protection if you work in a noisy environment. If they don’t you could be eligible for a hearing loss claim for compensation. Hearing protection zones should be identified and within these areas protection must be compulsory. The protection should aim to reduce the noise to below the dangerous level of 85 dB.
Noise induced hearing loss contributes to a third of all hearing loss cases and is caused in two ways. The most common is being exposed to loud noises over a long period of time which would most likely to be through work but also could be from listening to very loud music. The other cause is from a extremely deafening sudden noise such as an explosion. NIHL can be identified as it affects the hearing sensitivity in the higher frequencies. The effects of this form of hearing loss you will experience difficulty hearing the telephone ring, doorbell or television. High frequency hearing loss usually inhibits our ability to hear certain sounds in conversation such as t, d & s.
If you are unsure if the noise level in your job is loud enough to cause you hearing loss, here are a few questions to ask your self.
- Do you have to raise your voice when standing 2 meters away from a work colleague to be heard?
- Is the noise apparent for the majority of the day?
- Do you use or are you near power tools or machinery for more than 30 minutes each day?
- Is your hearing muffled after work? It may even be back to normal in the morning
If you answer yes to any of these questions you are at risk of developing work related hearing loss and should be provided with hearing protection. If you aren’t and your hearing is affected you are due hearing loss compensation. The first course of action should be to discuss this with your manager or employer as your hearing is delicate and you want to stop any further damage your job may be doing. If you wish to then pursue your hearing loss claim you should contact a lawyer or hearing loss expert.