Occupational deafness: alarming

Occupational deafness: alarming

2/27/2015 - SPI

Many have seen their hearing deteriorating. Others are unable to work anymore. It is time to curb the problem, and you are part of the solution.

High-risk sectors

When surrounded by noisy, heavy machinery, the ears are often exposed to a level beyond the safe decibel limit. The construction, mining and metallurgy industries are obvious examples of work environments where the noise levels are often hazardous.

Pauline Bordeleau, SPI Expert Advisor, reiterates that to determine if there is a risk, “the NIOSH (National Institute of Safety and Health) criteria are the most used in Canada, as well as the ACGIH criteria that propose to avoid exceeding a weighted average of 85 dBa over an 8-hour period exposure.”

Are you concerned that this limit will not be respected in your workplace? Ask yourself a few questions. If the employees must raise their voices to be heard or they experience a temporary hearing loss at the end of their workday, this is a sign that should not be ignored!

Doing nothing may lead to significant risks

Occupational deafness represents direct costs, such as losing an employee and having to pay compensation. We must not overlook the indirect consequences on your work environment!

Imagine a worker calling for help. Employees who are not hearing clearly will react more slowly. They will not understand the instruction the very first time. Normally, you do not want a misunderstanding to cause a series of unfortunate consequences.

A Quebec government study from 2007 clearly shows that working in a noisy environment, and hearing loss are factors contributing to a higher accident risk at work. Preventing deafness ensures the safety of all your workers.

There are solutions!

You now realize that your workplace contributes to hearing loss? Here are three suggestions to rectify the situation.

  • Controlling noise at source

If possible, choose less noisy equipment. However, certain machinery may never be completely silent. If this is the case, minimize their negative impacts by installing sound deadening enclosures or placing screens and materials inhibiting reverberation around the equipment.

  • Reducing the exposure of your employees

The longer the exposure, the greater the damages. By modifying work schedules, you will improve their protection.

  • Providing the appropriate equipment

No one should work in a noisy environment without wearing the required earplugs or earmuffs! Make sure the equipment is available and the message is well understood.

For a comprehensive hearing risk assessment in your workplace, ask the SPI experts to come on site.