Have you ever noticed how much noise is around us? No matter where we go or what we do noise is everywhere, and no matter what we do we cannot avoid it. But when you consider the alternative, you must admit you are happy to be able to hear.
Some people unfortunately are either hearing impaired, born deaf, or lose their hearing due to medical problems or from some other out side source.
It is estimated there are 357,000 deaf Canadians and about a million that are hard of hearing. Hearing loss is the third most prevalent chronic condition in older adults, and the most widespread disability.
It’s prevalence rises with age – 46% of people age 45 to 87 have some hearing loss. Over the past several years advances have brought hearing loss to peoples attention, especially in the work place.
Occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work related illnesses, it is estimated it costs the Canadian economy 10.6 billion a year and may affect up to 3 million adults. These people often feel isolated both at work and at home, they get confused, and are unable to follow conversations in crowded, noisy places.
The isolation they experience can lead to serious stress related illnesses, withdrawal from their family, and a shying away from social interactions. The problem with a decline in hearing is that it can go undetected for years, gradually getting worse. After all there is no blood to see or pain – just a slow unnoticeable decline.
What Is Being Done To Prevent This Widespread Problem?
It is the responsibility of employers to prevent over exposure with a conservation program. This does not simply mean them giving employees some protectors, it means using the appropriate protection for the noise level being used.
A good conservation program would include, measuring the level of noise, engineering noise control, hazard postings, hearing protectors, baseline and annual hearing tests, education, training and annual program reviews. So all in all your goal as an employer should be to reduce noise where you can, provide protection and help the participants understand how the program benefits them, and check them regularly for any hearing loss.
As an employee you also have a responsibility to protect yourself, you should always head the hazard signs and definitely wear the hearing protectors provided for you.
What Is The Canadian Government Doing For The Prevention Of Hearing Loss In The Workplace?
Health Canada helps Canadians avoid loss from exposure to excessive noise at work at home and also at play.
As part of this work they review current scientific studies, measure sound levels from consumer products like personal stereo systems. They also give Canadians information on how to protect themselves, and help develop national and international measuring standards.
Also they encourage manufacturers to provide standardized information about the noise emitted by the machinery they sell.
If we all work together – government, employers and employees – it is hoped in the near future we can cut down a great deal of workplace hearing loss, and thereby help people avoid the medical and personal problems that accompany this devastating, harmful situation.