Could your job be putting your hearing at risk?
Posted on Nov 15, 2017
If you think about the risks you could face in the workplace, many people may identify things like trip hazards, or perhaps the dangers of working with heavy machinery, such as on a construction site.
However, one of the most prevalent risks across a wide range of industries is actually one that you can't see at all. Noise-induced hearing loss is a serious concern that affects many Australians – over a third of all cases of hearing loss are due to over exposure to loud noise1.
Here we're taking a look at some of the noisiest occupations.
- Construction workers
- Manufacturing workers
- Armed forces
- Airport staff
- Nightclub staff and DJs
According to Safe Work Australia, over the course of five years there were over 16,000 compensation claims made for hearing loss due to noise exposure2. The majority of the claims (65 per cent), came from the construction, manufacturing and transport and storage sectors.
An estimated 28-32 per cent of Australian workers are likely to work in a noisy environment3.
How loud is too loud
The safe noise level, according to Safe Work Australia, is an average of 85 decibels over an 8 hour period, with a peak level of 140 decibels3. Any exposure to noise above the 140 decibel threshold can cause damage to our hearing almost instantly3.
Despite these guidelines being in place, according to the Australian Acoustical Society, about one fifth of the workforce regularly work in noise levels above the exposure standard (average of 85 decibels over 8-hour period)4. If you find you need to raise your voice to speak to someone about 1 metre away, it's usually a sign that the ambient noise levels could be dangerous to your hearing3.
Left unaddressed, hearing loss can worsen with time, and could lead to tinnitus (ringing in the ears), social isolation, depression and other effects on our mental health.
If you believe your hearing, or that of a loved one has been affected by working in a noisy environment, it's important to get your hearing tested as early at possible. You can book your no cost* hearing check with your local HEARINGLife clinic by clicking here, or by giving our team a call on 1800 030 502.
1Queensland Government, Noise induced hearing loss. Accessed July, 2017.
2Safe Work Australia, Occupational noise-induced hearing loss in Australia. Accessed July, 2017.
3Safe Work Australia, Noise. Accessed July, 2017.
4Australian Acoustical Society, Noise Exposure in the Australian Workforce. Accessed July, 2017.