With Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) being the world’s 5th leading cause of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), the annual global advocacy event World Hearing Day raises awareness regarding hearing loss, and promotes ear and hearing care, and calls for action to address hearing loss and related issues.
The theme for 2022 “To hear for life, listen with care” focuses on the importance and means of hearing loss prevention through safe listening, with the following key messages:
• It is possible to have good hearing across the life course through ear and hearing care
• Many common causes of hearing loss can be prevented, including hearing loss caused by exposure to loud sounds
• ‘Safe listening’ can mitigate the risk of hearing loss associated with recreational sound exposure
• World Health Organisation (WHO) calls upon governments, industry partners and civil society to raise awareness for and implement evidence-based standards that promote safe listening.
Dr Karen Michell, Research Programme Lead, IOSH (Occupational Health) highlights some useful tips below for both employers and workers:
Top tips for employers
Conduct noise surveys, compile noise maps and communicate these to the workers so they are clear on where the risks lie.
Prevent exposure at source, ie enclose machines rather than rely on the use of hearing protection devices. A three decibel drop in noise halves the impact on hearing health making this small change significant in terms of hearing loss.
Ensure workers are provided with the correct hearing protection devices where needed, train on the correct usage and enforce usage.
Educate workers on the risks of exposure to noise and the impacts it may have on their quality of life, ie impair communication.
Offer better protection to workers identified with hearing losses, ie customised hearing protection, to prevent further deterioration, especially in the early stages. They should be monitored more regularly and, if loss continues, consideration given to moving them out of a noise zone.
Top tips for workers
Early warning signs are subtle and need to be actioned earlier rather than later. These include ringing in the ears, inability to hear soft sounds, muffling of speech and other sounds, trouble understanding conversation, having to concentrate while listening and the need to turn up the volume on devices. Speak to your occupational safety and health (OSH) professional if you are concerned.
Familiarise yourself with the noise zones at work and comply with all legal instructions provided by your employer, ie wearing hearing protection in a noise zone.
Participate in hearing screening tests, so you know how you are being affected by noise.
Use your hearing protection correctly and, if damaged or misplaced, ensure prompt replacement. Raise any concerns or problems with the OSH professional in your workplace.
Manage your environmental exposure where possible to further protect your hearing health, ie use hearing protection at home when using noisy tools and equipment.
Further information and resources can be found here: