Work has the potential to harm your health in many ways but hearing loss is one that many ignore. You may think that only extreme noises such as explosions can result in deafness but this isn’t the case. Unfortunately thousands of workers everyday are exposed to noises that have the potential to permanently damage hearing. Because of this there is a growing number of people making hearing loss claims against their employers.
If you need to raise your voice to be heard over noise at work, then it is loud enough to cause hearing loss. Sounds of over 85dB have the capability to do this and seeing that a hair dryer is over this volume, it is easy for work to be even louder. The length of the exposure also has a significance on the likelihood of developing hearing loss. This can even be calculated;
- 85dB can cause hearing loss after 8 hours exposure
- 90dB can cause hearing loss after 4 hours exposure
- 95dB can cause hearing loss after 2 hours exposure
- 100dBcan cause hearing loss after 1 hour exposure
As you can see, there is a pattern. For every 5dB increase in noise, the time needed to cause industrial hearing loss halves. This means that a jack-hammer which can reach 120dB could cause hearing loss in a matter of minutes.
Noise induced hearing loss is different from other forms such as natural hearing loss caused by ageing. The little hairs in the ear that pick up vibrations to convert to sound are damaged by loud noise. These hairs become limp and can’t then pick up as much sound. This type of deafness only affects high frequency sounds, which is why it can be differentiated from other forms of hearing loss. An audio test will establish if you are experiencing hearing loss and in which frequencies.
An audio-gram shows that there is a steep low just in the high frequencies meaning that a person is suffering from noise induced hearing loss. If it showed loss across all frequencies, the hearing loss could have been caused in another way. This may also include noise but it would be harder to establish this as it wouldn’t be obvious as there was another factor involved.
If you feel that you may be experiencing hearing loss or that you are worried you could be as you work in a noisy environment, you should seek medical advise. You should also speak with your manager to access your working environment. It is illegal to allow people to work in environments of 85dB and over without sufficient protection. This protection should be readily available and mandatory. A set of earmuffs just hung up isn’t adequate and is breaking the law.
Although protection such as hearing plugs and muffs will assist in guarding you from noise, the first course of action has to be addressing the noise at its source. This can include sound proofing, new machinery, lubrication and new methods. Plugs and muffs should only be utilised in the short term whilst the origin is being dealt with.
Author Bio; Chris Evans – Atrium Legal
Atrium are experts in industrial hearing loss and help workers whose job has effected their health. We give advice and assist in hearing loss compensation claims.