Industrial hearing loss, often called industrial deafness, occupational deafness or noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), used to be a common condition affecting people who work in very noisy environments such as factories and the construction industry.
This irreversible, but completely preventable condition still happens far too often despite increased awareness of the terrible consequences, resulting in temporary or permanent hearing loss or tinnitus, a persistent ringing in the ears.
What is Industrial Deafness?
Industrial hearing loss caused by loud noises in the workplace can be from repeated exposure over a long time, such as factory noise and machinery in a confined space, or sudden loud noises such as explosions.
Long term exposure to excessive noise gradually causes hearing loss, so it isn’t noticeable until the damage is done; it’s also the easiest form of deafness to prevent. The constant loud noise damages the tiny cells in the inner ear which can’t be repaired, and the damage only worsens as the exposure continues.
The Symptoms of Industrial Deafness
If you’re constantly exposed to loud noises at work with no protection for your ears, it’ll take some time for you notice a significant reduction in your ability to hear properly.
Often you may be the last to realise there’s a problem, but others will notice that you keep asking them to repeat themselves, or you’ll complain that people are mumbling or not speaking loud enough. You might also notice that you need to turn up the TV or radio to hear it clearly, or you have trouble following a conversation when there’s a lot of background noise.
How to Prevent Industrial Hearing Loss
Preventing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is quite simple once you’re aware of the damage that occurs with constant exposure to loud noises. Workplaces can be tested for acceptable noise levels and steps taken to reduce the noise if it’s too high. Your employer is required by law to reduce your exposure to loud noise. You can also wear protective equipment such as ear plugs and ear muffs and ask to be moved to somewhere quieter if possible.
Why You Should Get A Hearing Test
If you work in a noisy environment and you suspect your hearing isn’t as good as it used to be, it’s important to reduce your exposure to loud noises and have a professional hearing test as soon as possible to assess the damage. If left untreated, your hearing loss can have an effect on your work performance and even pose a safety risk to yourself and your work mates.
Once your hearing is damaged, it can’t be restored, but there are ways to help you hear clearly again.
At Health and Hearing, we have more than 30 years of experience working with veterans, seniors and working Australians, and we’re here to help you with any problems you have with your hearing.