Industrial Deafness growing issue in Australia

hearing aid for Industrial purposes

Hearing loss is seen by many Australians as something that happens with age or from exposure to extreme volumes such as live concerts, gunshots or a jet taking off. What a lot of people don't think about is the damage that can be caused by common, everyday loud noises like traffic or loud sounds in the workplace.

Hearing loss is the second most common health condition experienced by Australians, more common than heart disease, diabetes or asthma. About one in six people experience some form of hearing loss, and experts believe that most cases were preventable and resulted from repeated exposure.

What is Industrial Deafness?

Industrial deafness describes hearing loss caused by noise in the workplace. It accounts for about 10 per cent of onset hearing loss in adults. Since noisy workplaces are common in many Australian industries because of tools and machinery, the damage it causes can happen gradually and go unnoticed until it's too late.

Employers are obligated to protect their workers from excessive noise exposure under Federal Government Occupational Health and Safety regulations. It’s important to recognise whether noises in your workplace pose a risk to your hearing and whether there are steps in place to reduce or eliminate this risk.

Noisy Workplaces

Loud sound doesn’t have to be physically painful or unpleasant to cause hearing damage. If you have to raise your voice to be understood by someone standing less than a metre away, then you are in an environment that could be causing permanent damage. Like sun exposure, the damage to hearing from noise accumulates over time. The longer the exposure and the higher the sound level, the more damage that is likely to occur.

Sound is measured in decibels (dB). Repeated or lengthy exposure to sounds at or above 85 dB can cause hearing problems over time. That is roughly the level of sound an idle heavy motor truck makes. Sounds below 75 dB are considered safe. You should consider protection if you’re exposed to sounds between 75 and 90 dB for an extended period (4 to 8 hours). Sounds above 90 dB should be avoided for longer than 30 minutes and sounds above 120 dB should be avoided altogether.

An example in the workplace is an electric drill, which makes a sound at 94 dB and will cause permanent damage if you are exposed to it for longer than an hour. A jackhammer has a sound level of 110 dB and can cause permanent damage after 2 minutes without protection.

Symptoms of Industrial Deafness

Signs and symptoms of hearing problems caused by workplace noises include:

  • Speech and other sounds seeming muffled
  • Difficulty hearing other people in conversation, especially consonants
  • Difficulty following group conversations, especially in a louder environment
  • Difficulty understanding people on the phone
  • Frequently asking others to repeat themselves or speak more slowly
  • Needing to turn up the volume on your television, radio or other devices
  • Constant ringing, buzzing, roaring or hissing noises
  • Poorer hearing in one ear

Can You Make a Claim?

If you work in a prescribed workplace, it is compulsory for employers to arrange a baseline hearing test within 12 months of your employment commencing. A prescribed workplace exists where workers are exposed to 90 dB or above during a typical eight hour day.

A baseline hearing test is conducted by an approved WorkCover WA tester to establish an initial reference for your overall Percentage Loss of Hearing (PLH). Subsequent tests will be compared with it to measure any hearing loss caused. If you have lost at least ten per cent of your hearing compared with the baseline PLH, you may be eligible for compensation. A full audiological assessment and examination by a specialist will then be arranged to determine the exact nature and extent of hearing loss.

Suspect you have experienced work-related hearing loss in Perth?

Get in touch with Hearing And Audiology by calling08 (08) 9388 8003 or enquiring online. We are hearing loss specialists with four audiological clinics in Perth, Duncraig, Geraldton and Subiaco. We can help treat your hearing problems and advise you about industrial deafness compensation.

Tradies National Health Month – Industrial Deafness.


Tradies National Health Month - Industrial Deafness Tradies National Health Month – Industrial Deafness.
August 2015 has been declared as Tradies National Health Month. Noise hazards on the job can be a real threat to the wellbeing of the workforce. Industrial deafness and ongoing issues with Tinnitus are the consequence.
Industrial deafness, occupational deafness and noise induced hearing loss are phrases which are used to describe a deterioration of a person’s hearing as a result of his or her working environment.
A person does not have to lose his or her hearing completely to be classified as deaf, and in fact there are varying degrees of deafness:
•mild deafness – this can often cause difficulty following speech, hearing the television, particularly in environments where there is background noise. This is the most common form of industrial deafness
•moderate deafness – people who suffer moderate deafness may not be able to hear without the use of a hearing aid
•severe deafness – those suffering with severe deafness often rely on lip-reading despite using a hearing aid. Such people may also use sign language as their preferred means of communication
•profound deafness – the most serious form of deafness. Sufferers of this type of deafness will usually rely on lip-reading and sign language
If you have worked in a noisy environment, being exposed to noisy machinery or tools and have noticed that you cannot hear the television or doorbell as well as you used to, are struggling in social environments where there is background noise, or are noticing that you are having to ask people to repeat themselves, you may be suffering from industrial deafness.
At Hearing & Audiology, all our audiologists are accredited by WorkCover to perform baseline, full audiological and subsequent testing. Our booths are WorkCover approved for both baseline and full audiological tests. Anyone working in a designated noisy area requires a baseline hearing test on commencing work. Hearing tests over the working life can notify us of any hearing loss. If this is the case a compensation scheme is in place if there is a 10% hearing loss compared to the original baseline test from noise in the workplace.
Your employer is responsible for arranging and paying for all WorkCover hearing tests.
Our Testing Range
Our clinics specialise in offering comprehensive hearing tests in consultation with WorkCover. This range of tests includes:
•Baseline and subsequent air conduction testing
•Full audiological assessment
•Subsequent full audiological assessment
Book an Appointment Today
For more information about our hearing healthcare services, please give us a call at (08) 9388 8003

Tradies National Health Month - Industrial Deafness