With National Safe Work Month now on, Hearing Australia is urging workers across all industries to protect their ears from dangerously loud sounds.
In Australia, hearing loss due to excessive noise from machinery and power tools is one of the most widespread, yet preventable, workplace injuries.
According to Safe Work Australia, the sectors with the highest rates of workers’ compensation claims due to occupational hearing loss are construction and manufacturing.
It’s estimated that more than half a million Australian workers experience constant tinnitus, which is a ringing or buzzing in the ears. Tinnitus can result in sleep loss, concentration disturbance, decreased sound tolerance, anxiety, and depression.
Karen Hirschausen, Hearing Australia Principal Audiologist said, “People often ask ‘what’s too loud?’ Essentially, if you’re in a situation where you need to raise your voice to be understood at conversational distance (1-2 metres), then the noise is probably too loud. Repeated or lengthy exposure to sounds above 85 decibels, which is approximately the level of a forklift or front-end loader, can cause permanent damage.”
Ms Hirschausen says early intervention is critical. “Workers live with the legacy of hearing loss long after they put down their tools. That’s why it’s so important for people who work in noisy environments to stay on top of their hearing health,” she says.
“Employees and employers alike need to step up. Get regular hearing checks and if you notice any changes, you should see an audiologist.
The key is to not delay getting help. Untreated hearing loss can lead to social isolation, loneliness, mental health problems and reduced quality of life. If you understand the hazards of noise and how to practice good hearing health, you can protect your hearing for life.”
In time for Safe Work Month, Hearing Australia has released a new factsheet – Protecting Your Hearing at Work, with useful information on noise-induced hearing loss and top tips for protecting your hearing at work.
This is available at Hearing Australia’s website – www.hearing.com.au/Hearing-loss/Prevention.