Hearing today can be gone tomorrow.
Reducing workplace noise is vital to safe work. Workplaces must have noise controlled at a level that does not harm workers. Exposure to excessive noise can result in noise induced hearing loss. Workplaces must make every effort to reduce the noise at the source.
Personal hearing protection (earmuffs and/or earplugs) should only be used as a temporary measure or last resort. If personal hearing protection is used regularly, your workplace must put audiometric testing into place to ensure it is effectively protecting your hearing. This is a requirement under the work health and safety laws.
If you are directed to use hearing protection, you must wear it and wear it correctly.
Hearing loss not only affects you but can impact the people around you such as family members or workmates.
Early warning signs
A simple early warning sign test is to check if you are adjusting the volume on the car radio. Are you finding the radio setting that you had to drive to work that morning is too quiet and need to turn it up to hear it on the way home? This could be a sign of a temporary threshold shift.
Conversely, finding that the radio is too loud in the morning after you’ve driven home with it to a comfortable settling at night may be a sign that you are experiencing a short threshold shift in hearing.
Some other early warning signs of hearing loss include:
- a ringing in the ears after noisy activity
- difficulty in understanding what people say, especially with background noise
- the need to turn the volume up to hear the radio or television when others appear to hear adequately
- failing to hear background noises such as a ringing telephone or doorbell.
If your workplace puts you at risk of exposure to excessive noise, or if you're experiencing any of the warning signs of hearing loss - tell the supervisor or Health and Safety Representative.
Everyone is responsible for safe work – so if you're not sure about something, ask someone.