Certain occupations have a greater risk of acquiring a hearing loss because of loud noise in their work environments, for example:
• factory, mining and construction workers
• musicians and DJs
• hospitality workers such as bar staff, chefs and nightclub workers.
If you often use power tools, hairdryers and other noisy equipment or machinery as part of your job, you are also at risk of having hearing problems. It’s important to also be aware that your risk can increase if you are occupationally exposed to solvents or toxins, or if you are taking certain medications.
Australian workplace health and safety laws stipulate that noise levels in all Australian workplaces must not exceed 85 decibels over an eight-hour period – it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe work environment.
This means keeping loud noise to a minimum wherever possible, and often employees are required to wear hearing protection as well. In certain workplaces it can be difficult to apply these measures, for example nightclubs and live music venues, and it is often left to the individual to look after their own hearing.