Hearing loss is a real and serious threat to the health and well being of employees who work in high risk noise environments.

Statistics have shown that 27% of people suffer from hearing loss as a result of exposure to excessively loud noises (Industrial Noise). This hearing loss results because loud noises cause actual physical damage to the delicate hearing mechanisms of the inner ear. This damage to hearing from loud noises occurs when noise levels exceed 85 decibels which is similar to the noise of heavy traffic.

Exposure to loud noises in the work place is also the single most common cause of hearing loss in Australia. The most dangerous aspect of exposure to excessively loud noises over extended periods of time is that the damage to your hearing can be so gradual and painless that you may not notice the minor deteriorations from day to day.

Damage can also be suffered if users do not properly insert their ear plug or constantly take their earmuffs off to communicate with other workers.

Exposure to constant and excessive loud noise can create other health problems aside from hearing loss. It can cause headaches, elevated blood pressure, fatigue, irritability and increased susceptibility to colds and other minor infections.

Currently there is no cure or treatment for permanent damage caused therefore prevention via controlling or reducing the exposure to loud noises is the most effective way to prevent noise related hearing loss.

Some ways of controlling or reducing exposure to loud noise in the work place include: changing or modifying noisy equipment, locating noisy equipment in a separate or soundproof area, modify the use of noisy equipment to minimize the number of people that will be exposed to the noise or where noisy equipment is directly handled by employees by using personal hearing protection such as ear plugs or ear muffs.

Review this article on Risk Management and the Heirarchy of Control to view ways of further protect your workers ears.

* Information sourced from Victorian State Government Department of Human Services.

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