November 22 at 8:30 AM
Industrial deafness is an issue that affects nine million UK residents, but it is still a scarcely addressed topic. Many people may regard industrial deafness as only a threat to those who work in textiles, engineering, or construction. However, work-related hearing loss may be a more imminent risk than you think.
Industrial deafness in the news
One of the least known conditions related to industrial deafness is acoustic shock, which occurs when a person is exposed to an extremely loud noise close to the eardrum. Call centre workers, for example, are at a high risk for this type of injury due to the headsets that they use. Most notably, British Telecom came under fire in 2001 after a former employee won £90,000 in damages resulting from work-related hearing loss. Dozens of other British Telecom employees also filed industrial deafness claims.
How can you avoid the need to file a claim of your own? Here are several safety tips to prevent hearing loss.
1. Use the proper hearing protection equipment. If you work in a noisy area, make sure that you always have the proper equipment to guard against hearing loss, such as earplugs or earmuffs. But just as importantly as having this equipment is making sure that you know how to use it. You should request that your employer plans safety training courses for all new employees that include a section on how to use protective devices. And refresher courses for existing employees are also a good idea.
2. Talk with your employer about noise conditions in their your workplace. Even if you think your boss is familiar with the noise levels at your workplace, communicating with your employer one-on-one could lead him or her to find other hearing hazards in areas that are far away from their work space.
3. Consistently measure noise levels. This will help you and other employees measure any changes in noise levels and find the source of the increase or decrease. Collecting data can also helps supervisors and managers make key decisions when it is time to upgrade equipment or buy new equipment.
4. Try to navigate their workplace in a way that reduces the risk of industrial deafness. In some cases, it may be possible for you to complete your tasks in a position or at a distance from the machinery that reduces their risk of hearing loss. Whenever work can be accomplished safely in this way, it should be.
5. Spend minimum time in high-decibel noise areas when possible. Sometimes the best way to prevent hearing loss is stay away from the source of the noise as much as possible. Remember that it is important to complete tasks that require high-noise machinery quickly and then leave the area.
While industrial deafness is sometimes reversible, some workers may not be so lucky. It is important to take the necessary precautions to prevent any kind of hearing damage so that you can remain safe and happy in the workplace.