Noise, Noise, Noise!
Do you or have you ever worked in construction? Do you or have you ever worked in a factory? Maybe you work with power tools or use a chain saw on a regular basis. Maybe you go to concerts a lot, or did in the past. Ever been a hunter or a skeet shooter? If you answered yes to any of these questions you may have put your hearing at risk. Noise exposure is something that slowly can affect your hearing over time. It depends on the amount of noise you are exposed to and the length of time you are exposed to it. After you are exposed to loud noise (for example, at a concert) your ears may ring or hurt or you may temporarily not hear very well. Over time, repeated exposure to loud noise will gradually cause permanent noise-induced hearing loss.
In the past workers did not always wear hearing protection. Now there are laws about the levels of noise you can be safely exposed to. Anything above that limit and you are required by law to wear hearing protection. The Ministry of Labour has made changes to the current noise requirements for industrial workplaces. This is in an effort to provide greater protection for workers from occupational noise induced hearing loss.
Effective July 1, 2007 workers in Ontario will be limited to an 8 hour time-weighted average noise exposure limited of 85 dBA. This is a decrease from 90 dBA. Warning signs must also be posted for areas in the workplace where the sound level regularly exceeds the level of 85 dBA. The Ontario Government is hoping that by lowering overall daily exposure to noise that they can prevent hearing loss in workers. Over the past decade an estimated $100 million has been paid out by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in compensation costs for hearing loss claims.
If you have worked in a noisy environment in the past and answer yes to any of the following questions, you should consider a hearing test which may lead to a possible hearing loss claim.
- Do family members complain about your inability to hear?
- Do you have difficulty understanding what people are saying in noisy places?
- Do you often ask people to repeat themselves?
- Do you find yourself avoiding social situations because you cannot hear?
- Do you turn up the volume on the TV so loud that others are complaining?
- Do you have difficulty hearing familiar sounds like the telephone and/or doorbell?
- Do you have ringing in your ears?
It is important to limit your exposure times to loud noises, but if you must be in a noisy environment please wear hearing protection. Ninety-nine percent of noise-induced hearing losses are preventable using proper hearing protection.
Early detection is very important. If you suspect a problem, consult an audiologist. Call Bentley Hearing Services for a consultation.