Sound, and noise are natural parts of everyday life, but exposure to loud noise can cause permanent damage to your hearing; whether you are young or old, once your hearing is damaged it will never get better. While new regulations have been introduced to protect workers from the damaging effects of noise, you need to look after your own hearing as well as relying on your employer to do their bit.
Am I at risk?
According to the HSE, it is most likely that you are at risk of hearing loss if you can answer ‘yes’ to any of the following questions about the noise where you work:
- Is the noise intrusive – like a busy street, a vacuum cleaner or a crowded restaurant – for most of the working day?
- Do you have to raise your voice to have a normal conversation when around 2 metres apart for at least part of the day?
- Do you use noisy powered tools or machinery for over half an hour per day?
- Do you work in a noisy industry, eg construction, demolition or road repair; woodworking; plastics processing, engineering; textile manufacture; general fabrication; forging; pressing or stamping; paper or board making; canning or bottling; or in foundries?
- Are there noises because of impacts (eg hammering, drop forging, pneumatic impact tools etc) explosive sources such as cartridge operated tools or detonators, or guns?
- Do you have muffled hearing at the end of the day, even if it is better by the following morning?
Symptoms and early signs of hearing loss
The following are potentially signs that you may be developing hearing loss:
- Conversations can become difficult or impossible
- Your family complains that you have the television turned up too loud
- You have trouble using the telephone
- You might find it difficult to catch sounds such as ‘t’, ‘d’ and ‘s’ making it confusing to understand some words
- You may suffer from tinnitus; a ringing, buzzing or whistling in the ears.
In most cases hearing loss is a gradual decline – by the time you notice it, it could well be too late.
We have years of experience in dealing with hearing loss cases – if your hearing has become damaged due to your work you should contact us to see how we can help you. You might well be entitled to compensation if your employer is to blame for your hearing issues.