“Noise is like sunlight or radiation: a little is OK but a lot is significantly damaging” (Garvan Institute, 2021).
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is a significant occupational health concern among Tradies due to the high levels of noise present on workplace sites.
Located in the inner ear, our delicate hair cells are designed to handle moderate sounds, but excessive and prolonged exposure to loud sounds or sudden intense noises, ranging from drills and saws to jackhammers and heavy machinery causes cumulative and irreversible damage, leading to permanent hearing impairment.
Unlike other injuries, this one leaves no visible scars, but its impact on individuals’ lives and job performance can be devastating and goes beyond just a hearing impairment. Early signs of hearing loss may include difficulty understanding conversations, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears. If left unaddressed, the hearing loss can worsen, leading to more significant communication difficulties, social isolation, reduced job performance, and decreased safety awareness on the construction site.
The good news is that NIHL is preventable. Simple measures include:
- Using appropriate hearing protection such as earplugs or earmuffs in noisy environments.
- Implementing engineering controls to limit exposure to loud sounds on site where possible, such as using quieter equipment,
- modifying machinery, or creating barriers to absorb or block noise.
- Providing education and training on the risks of noise-induced hearing loss, the proper use of hearing protection, and the importance of early detection and treatment to help create a culture that prioritises hearing protection.
- Undergo regular hearing health checkups to monitor hearing and detect any changes early.
Let’s work together to protect our hearing, promote better overall well-being and combat this silent epidemic.
If you have been exposed to noise and are concerned about your hearing, it is recommended to consult with one of our hearing healthcare professionals for a comprehensive evaluation.