By Lauren McNee, Clinical Trainer, and Audiologist at Audika
Hearing loss can occur for several reasons – genetics, ageing or illness to name a few. But one of the more common, but rarely talked about reasons is industrial hearing loss.
Our ears are exposed to loud sounds every day, whether that be commuting to work, going to noisy venues for dinner and drinks with friends, attending concerts or even playing our music too loud in our earphones. All these sounds can damage your ears and result in noise induced hearing loss.
But the risks are exacerbated for those that work in noisy industries where noise levels exceed 85 dB on a regular basis – and manufacturing is one of these industries. Some other industry examples include aviation, construction, mining, racing and music.
It can be taboo, but hearing loss affects more people that you probably know – almost half of Aussies will experience hearing loss (43%), and globally it is expected to affect 1 in 4 people by 2050 (Australian Government, Department of Health and Aged Care).
In an industry like manufacturing where you are exposed to loud sounds like glass bottling lines, cutting machinery, milling operations, and the noise produced from wheeled trolley and racks, it’s particularly important to take measures to protect your ears from damage, and quickly address any decline to avoid further hearing loss.
Sadly, not enough people take this seriously. Despite the high percentage of people with hearing loss, only 1 in 5 plan on getting a hearing test this year. As a result, there are 1.3 million Australians living with a hearing condition that could have been prevented (Australian Government, Department of Health and Aged Care).
There’s little that can be done about the nature of the work and the high noise environment, but there are things you can do to protect your ears when in these environments:
- Wear protective hearing wear (earplugs and earmuffs) when working in a noisy environment
- Remember that mobile phone Bluetooth ear buds (even noise cancelling ones) don’t provide enough protection in a lot of noisy work environments.
- Turn down the volume of the sounds from music, TVs, Radio when possible
- Take breaks to step away from loud sounds, to reduce the length of exposure
- Reduce noise from work equipment by maintaining and lubricating tools, and replacing machine parts when they are worn
- Stash hearing protection nearby at work, or bring them with you, so it is always convenient – and bring spare for a friend!
And importantly, get tested regularly. You can get a free hearing test at an Audika clinic closest to you or go to Audika.com.au to make a booking.
Hearing loss goes far beyond our work life. Research by the Lancet Commission has linked hearing loss as a key modifiable factor in developing dementia, as well as research commissioned by Audika showing hearing loss can greatly affect personal relationships, with 1 in 3 reporting better relationships with family and friends post receiving treatment.
About Lauren McNee
Audika audiologist and clinical trainer with over 15 years’ experience treating clients, Lauren McNee, says awareness plays a factor in this, as well as willingness to protect your ears and prevent hearing loss before it has occurred.
Audika are part of the global Demant Group, which covers all aspects of hearing healthcare including rehabilitation clinics, R&D, diagnostic equipment, and device manufacturing. Backed globally by more than 115 years of audiology expertise and leadership, 250,000+ clients have entrusted their hearing to Audika’s expert clinicians here in Australia.
With more than 350 hearing clinics across the country, they provide a full range of hearing care services including hearing aids and cochlear implants.