How to prevent hearing loss in the workplace
Hearing loss can be a frightening and isolating experience for people: that’s why the team at eargym are passionate about promoting auditory health.
Hearing loss can significantly reduce people’s quality of life, whilst also having a huge impact on the economy. An estimated £25bn is lost every year in the UK as a result of early retirement and reduced productivity caused by hearing loss. In fact, noise-induced hearing loss is the second most common reason for employees to claim liability insurance for occupational health.
The World Health Organisation predicts that, by 2050, 2.5 billion people will be living with some form of hearing loss. This is a staggering number.
What’s equally astonishing is that hse.gov calculates that there are 2 million workers in the UK who are exposed to dangerous levels of noise in their workplace. This is, naturally, something we all want to avoid: so we’re here to teach you how to prevent hearing loss in the workplace.
With this in mind, we've put together a helpful guide on how to prevent hearing loss in the workplace.
How can hazardous noise levels in the workplace lead to hearing loss?
Before delving into ways of preventing hearing loss in the workplaces, here’s the science behind loud noises causing hearing damage.
The science behind loud noise and hearing loss
Sound travels through the ear as waves, which vibrate the eardrum. The eardrum then passes on these vibrations to the cochlea in the inner ear, so that the message can be transmitted to the brain.
The cochlea has sensitive hairs, which are responsible for passing on the messages to the brain, that become damaged by excessive loud noise. Damage to the cochlea is irreversible, and hearing loss can’t be regained.
Hearing loss happens as a result of exposure to excessive sound (above 85 decibels) for an extended period of time. People who work with noisy machinery or music are often exposed to noise for more than 6 hours at a time.
To prevent workers from experiencing hearing loss, noise hazards need to be identified and reduced. On top of this, employees need to have regular hearing tests to make sure the ear is healthy.
What can employers do to prevent hearing loss in the workplace?
To prevent employees from experiencing hearing loss and negative symptoms relating to loud noise exposure, there are precautions and steps employers can take. Even in quiet workplaces where there is little noise pollution, such as an office, there are still risks to people’s hearing. For example, workers may listen to loud music through their headphones, unaware of the risks. So, it’s important employees are made aware of the risks to auditory health. Putting up information posters and caution signs for employees to read is a great first step.
How to prevent hearing loss in the workplace, 7 tips for employers:
Promote auditory health and well-being;
Provide training on how to use protective gear and equipment;
Fit silencers where possible to dampen the sound of machinery;
Isolate loud noise to one room or space;
Provide workers with high-quality tools, machinery and equipment;
Maintain and look after protective gear;
Schedule workers’ shifts so the time exposed to loud noise is minimal.
What can employees do to prevent hearing loss in the workplace?
Every employer and business owner has a responsibility to their workers to ensure their health and safety. Similarly, workers have a responsibility to look after their own auditory health and protect their hearing. Here’s how workers can prevent hearing loss in the workplace:
Looking after hearing protective equipment;
Making sure protective gear is worn at the necessary times;
Reporting issues to the occupational health and safety officer and raising concerns with managers and supervisors;
Cooperating with new regulations;
Following guidance and health and safety measures accordingly;
Booking regular hearing tests with audiologists.
To maintain good auditory health in everyday life, people can use eargym. Using eargym is a convenient way for individuals to track their hearing health and take steps to look after it. Through the app, users can assess their hearing and complete exercises to develop and strengthen their hearing skills. After just 4 weeks of using the app, users have shown an average of 14% improvement in their hearing test results.
The best way to prevent hearing loss in the workplace is for both employers and employees to work together to make the working environment safe and secure. For more information, check out our other resources on hearing loss or download the eargym app for iOS and Android.