Hearing loss: a silent occupational hazard

Air traffic controllerOccupational hearing loss is in the news this week as firefighters in Pittsburgh are suing truck manufacturers saying that they’ve lost their hearing because of sirens that are too loud. The men range in age from 38 to 62 years old and they claim the excessively noisy sirens caused irreversible hearing loss.

Studies of hearing damage to firefighters have long shown noise-induced hearing loss. In 2007 a study by University of California said roughly 40% of all firefighters in the United States are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

However, the problem is not just limited to firefighters in the US and is a real issue of concern for workers all over the world.  Occupational hearing loss is the most prevalent industrial illness in Europe, with 35 million people exposed to detrimental noise levels.

Noise is an annoying, often hazardous part of the workplace and workers can be exposed to dangerous decibels in jobs as varied as construction, bar work, motorbike couriers, airport ground staff and farm hands.  According to Hidden Hearing exposure to noise levels above 85dB for over 60 minutes at a time can lead to irreparable hearing loss.

But the good news is that we can protect our hearing and take simple steps to prevent possible damage or further damage.  One good way to protect your hearing is to wear earplugs when you are exposed to loud noise.  Wearing earmuffs is another good way to protect your hearing.  Earplugs and earmuffs come with a ‘noise reduction rating’ or NRR.  Be sure yours have an NRR of at least 25.

The case of the firefighters is a good reminder of the importance of hearing protection especially in noisy work environments. If you believe you are experiencing noise-related hearing loss from your job you can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide.  Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie to consult with a local audiologist to diagnose your problem.

Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.

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