Noise induced hearing loss is caused by excessive exposure to loud noise. Noise damages the hair cells of the inner ear that allow us to hear and understand speech and sound, leading to permanent hearing loss.
Damage to your hearing from noise exposure is irreversible but preventable.
The effects of noise are cumulative. The longer you spend in a noisy environment, or the louder the noise, the greater the risk of hearing loss. If you’re in a situation where you need to raise your voice when standing 1-2 metres from someone, then the noise is probably too loud.
Noise induced hearing loss makes communication and social interaction difficult. It can cause isolation and has been linked to stress, depression, high blood pressure, and other health problems1.
Noise induced hearing loss can occur from:
- workplace noise, and
- recreational noise.
Workplace noise exposure
More than 1.1 million workers in Australia are exposed to dangerous levels of noise at work2. In addition to noise, hazardous chemicals known as ototoxic substances and hand arm vibration also contribute to hearing loss.
There are many ways that employers and workers can reduce workplace noise. Safe Work Australia’s Model Code of Practice: Managing noise and preventing hearing loss at work provides information to employers on how they can identify and assess exposure from noise and strategies to reduce risks. Check out our resources below or get in contact with your state or territory regulator for more information on managing noise exposure in workplaces.
Monitoring the hearing of high-risk workers
We offer occupational audiometric testing for workers exposed to hazardous noise. This can be arranged on-site for your business or individually when you book an appointment.
Recreational Noise Exposure
Many of us use smartphones to listen to music at loud volumes or attending noisy events such as live music or sport. At home, household activities like mowing or vacuuming often exceed safe noise levels.
Monitoring your noise exposure and taking regular sound breaks are a couple of ways to reduce the risk of recreational hearing loss. Check out the resources below for more information on reducing your noise exposure.
Prevention Toolkit Resources
1 Carroll Y et al, (2017), Vital Signs: Noise-Induced Hearing Loss Among Adults — United States 2011–2012, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6605e3.htm
2 Lewkowski K, Heyworth JS, Li IW, Williams W, McCausland K, Gray C, Ytterstad E, Glass DC, Fuente A, Si S, Florath I. Exposure to noise and ototoxic chemicals in the Australian workforce. Occupational and environmental medicine. 2019 May 1;76(5):341-8.