Noise Induced Hearing Loss at Workplace

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One of the most common work place injuries faced by individuals worldwide is noise induced hearing loss. The term is used to describe a hearing loss or impairment that is caused due to excessive exposure to noise. Statistics reveal that excessive noise exposure is responsible for a significantly high rate in hearing loss amongst adults. The same is in fact a prime factor responsible for international work place related morbidity.

It is argued that there exists only a modest estimation of the impact of hearing impairment on an individual's life. Despite the fact that considerable efforts have been made by both regional and international bodies in order to cater to this injury, it is still common in a number of countries. In most of the cases, close family members and contacts are able to detect the decline in such individuals' hearing and communicative capacity. These individuals tend to exhibit a worsening appreciation for sounds that belong to the high frequency region. In addition, the ability to make out speech clearly, a symptom that is dubbed as “muffled sounds”, is another problem that occurs due to noise induced hearing impairment. Individuals who work in an environment with high ambient noise in the background are prone to develop such hearing disorders and are unable to discriminate sounds or to understand speech easily.

The treatment options available for this type of hearing impairment are currently limited. Currently, these individuals can only make use of sound application devices such as hearing aids. However, despite the fact that there exist very advanced and technologically sophisticated hearing devices in the market, none of these are able to match the quality of natural hearing. The hearing precision of the human ear cannot be replicated by any current technological device. This said; the only way to ensure hearing safety of employees and to enforce hearing protection practices is to manage, prevent or reduce the exposure to noise.

The impact of noise induced hearing impairment is felt directly on conventional human communication activities. Not only is a person's capacity to interact affected, but his work capabilities and functional competence are also affected. We live in a highly communication intense society, hence such individuals are affected outside work life as well. While a number of companies are now adopting OSHA regulations in regard to hearing, there are a number of steps that may be taken at the individual level in order to prevent hearing loss.

Firstly, no noise needs to be taken for granted. Noise hazards needs to be eliminated through cost effective and innovative engineering solutions. In addition, companies can now opt for machines and equipments that have advanced noise control features incorporated into their manufacture and design. For noise intensive industries, the use of sound damping materials such mufflers are highly recommended. If noise equipment is the only choice, a mere relocation or installment of nose barriers may help the workers to isolate themselves. Noise management and control needs to be managed through both engineering and administrative controls.

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