Image via Flickr creative commons from Jaymis
Hearing loss in the workplace or occupational deafness is a serious issue and one that affects an estimated 360 million people around the world, according to the World Health Organisation. It can be either congenital or alternatively acquired. One cause of acquired hearing loss can be down to excess noise in the workplace, perhaps because of noisy machinery on a factory floor or maybe loud music in a pub or a club.
What are the impacts of hearing loss?
The condition can have a major impact on the lives of sufferers and at a very basic impair their ability to communicate properly with other people. Feelings of loneliness and isolation are very common, as is the intense feeling of frustration. Communication issues can be tackled through the use of sign language, but the social and emotion impacts of hearing loss can still be very relevant.
Awareness is key
One of the most important ways of minimising your chances of acquiring occupational hearing loss is to be aware of the condition and what causes it. If you know that you are putting your hearing at risk by working in a noisy environment without using any form of ear protection then you will be far more likely to take steps to minimise your exposure and level of risk. Empowerment through knowledge is key.
Making use of supplied safety equipment and following recommended safety procedures is always going to be essential when it comes to avoiding injury and reducing the chance of acquiring occupational deafness. Personal protective equipment options are wide and varied and include everything from large over-ear ear defenders through to in-ear buds. Of course it is essential to ensure that the equipment is up to the job and that means making sure seals are undamaged and clean, and that no modifications have been made to the ear protection device. It’s advisable for businesses to provide a variety of options when it comes to hearing protection so employees can choose which one suits them best.
While it is important that you are aware of the risks of working in a noisy environment and take steps to mitigate those risks, it is important to remember that all employers have a responsibility. Health and safety in the workplace is a major issue today and businesses have a legal responsibility to protect the health of their workforce under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. If an employer is not meeting the required standard and fails to adequately protect workers then the company can be held liable.
Workers should feel empowered to take action if they feel their employer is not offering a sufficient level of protection, or if legal health and safety requirements are not being met. Making an industrial deafness claim is a lot easier these days thanks to the number of professional claims specialists out there and there is a far higher level of understanding today about the issue and the impact that occupational deafness can have on a person’s life.