You have outlined your strict WH&S policies and best practices to new staff members. Sent them off for Audiometric Testing within three months of them starting work with your organisation. Adhered to Australian Standard AS/NZS 1269.4:2014 procedures to limit exposure to continuous noise over 85dB – or peak exposure of 140dB – in eight hours.
And yet, they still may be suffering from Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. But how can you tell?
In the interest of promoting health, safety and productivity, Flexshield – Australia’s industrial noise control specialists – presents the following nine signs to look out for:
If an employee has trouble keeping up, especially when two people are talking at the same time, they could be finding it hard to process competing sounds – one of the early signs they may be suffering from hearing loss.
Are they compensating for their hearing loss by raising their voices? It’s the same phenomenon when someone with PPE on is speaking, and they find it hard to talk normally.
If they aren’t picking up the full range of sound – from high notes to low – they may well start mumbling, a further sign of hearing loss.
You may notice them focusing intently on what you and their co-workers are saying, and perhaps afterwards complaining of headaches, fatigue and exhaustion. These symptoms are a common sign – having to focus to hear what others are saying is hard work.
That’s perfectly natural; however, people with hearing loss often have significant problems masking out background noise.
If they do, chances are they aren’t getting the sound signals they need to process sound correctly, a significant factor in hearing loss.
If you tell them about a death in the family and they reply “That’s great!”, it probably doesn’t mean they’re macabre or trying to be funny. Chances are they just haven’t heard you correctly and didn’t want to admit it.
Those suffering NIHL often are unable to hear sounds within the higher frequencies. They might be able to hear deep voices relatively quickly, but not the higher-pitched ones.
Tinnitus, or a ringing sound in the ears, particularly after exposure to deafening noises, can be a warning sign of hearing loss. If the ringing in their ears persists, consider sending them off for a hearing test.
Download our 9 signs your staff may be suffering from hearing loss infographic for more information or call 1300 799 969.