Occupational Deafness, Industrial Deafness or Noise Induced Hearing Loss as it is sometimes referred to, is a deterioration of a person’s hearing over a prolonged period of time as a result of their working environment.
Exposure to noise at work can cause irreversible hearing damage. It is one of the commonest health problems and can be difficult to detect as the effects build up gradually over time.
Excessive noise exposure over a prolonged period of time can cause the following symptoms and difficulties:
- Hearing loss
- Hearing difficulties when there is back-ground noise
- Difficulty conversing
- Problems when using the telephone
- Difficulty hearing the door-bell
- Ringing, whistling or buzzing in the ears (a medical condition known as Tinnitus)
Thousands of workers are exposed to excessive noise at work that can give rise to hearing loss (Noise Induced Deafness). Many workers do not claim until later on in life, as the disability is insidious. The effects of the noise exposure gradually creep up on a person. It is often only when age related hearing loss coupled with the additional noise induced loss becomes apparent that a person may notice a significant problem with their hearing.
Depending on when you worked in excessive levels of noise the core regulations governing noise exposure are The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 and The Noise at Work Regulations 1989, and the Factories Act.
Employers have a responsibility to protect all aspects of their employee’s health and safety and that includes their hearing. In recent years there has been a notable increase in the number of employees suffering from hearing problems such as acoustic shock or tinnitus.
Noise-induced hearing loss is a problem that threatens over a million people in the UK. Around 170,000 people are believed to have already developed hearing loss as a result of their work but there may be many more that do not realise their hearing has been damaged or have yet to be diagnosed.