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CONSTRUCTION WORKERS SUFFERING HEARING LOSS

Construction workers regularly experience noise levels up to six times the legal exposure limit and up to 75% are developing tinnitus or permanent hearing loss as a result of their job — according to figures from Australian audiologist Dr Ross Dineen, who has extensively studied hearing loss and tinnitus in the construction industry.

D

ineen and his colleagues studied noise exposure levels in construction and analysed the way personal protective equipment (PPE) and protective approaches are used. “Dosimeters measured the real-time exposure to noise and worker behaviour was monitored. Their total dose [of sound] over the working day averaged over six times the legal exposure limit,” Dineen said. “Over 75% of construction workers were experiencing hearing and communication problems,” he said, adding that this was based on hearing tests as well as feedback from family and friends. Dineen said little has changed since his research and that noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and tinnitus remain a serious issue in construction. “There’s nothing really being done to address it,” he said.

so too does reluctance to wearing hearing protection. “If you have a pre-existing hearing injury then conventional hearing protection reduces the ability to hear speech and warning sounds and it means many workers are not inclined to wear hearing protection at all,” Dineen said. “We conducted some focus groups asking why people were engaging in these behaviours and their immediate concern was being well enough to go home that night. They regularly see people around them injured or killed.” With this in mind, he stressed the importance of preventing hearing loss early. “The issue is to get people before they have injured their hearing when they can still hear while wearing conventional ear protection,” he said.

HEARING LOSS INCREASES PPE AVERSION

Pro Choice Safety Gear Product Development Manager Brad Rodgers said the company’s new ProPod earplugs are a Class 3 decibel rating, which encourages wear by providing hearing protection while still allowing wearers to hear background noises such

Reluctance to wearing PPE is a major cause of hearing loss in construction, according to Dineen, who said that hearing damage was compounding because as damage increases,

24 SAFETY SOLUTIONS - OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016

THE RIGHT CLASS OF PPE TO ENCOURAGE USE

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Safety Solutions Oct/Nov 2016  

Launched in April 2003, this bi-monthly magazine provides vital information on safety products and services in the industrial, construction,...

Safety Solutions Oct/Nov 2016  

Launched in April 2003, this bi-monthly magazine provides vital information on safety products and services in the industrial, construction,...