Excess noise in the workplace is one of the leading causes of hearing loss around the world. In an effort to combat this pervasive problem, WorkSafeBC, an organization dedicated to workers’ health and safety, recently issued a warning to people who work in the oil and gas industry. According to the WorkSafeBC report, workers in the oil and gas industry suffer a disproportionately high level of hearing loss compared to other professions, and the organization is calling for employers and employees in the oil and gas business to make hearing loss prevention a priority.
What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
When we are exposed to sound, that sound is picked up by sensory hair cells within the inner ear. Structures within these cells create an electrical signal, which is then transferred to the brain, where it is interpreted. The majority of noise-induced hearing loss occurs when we expose these sensitive hair cells in our ears to excessively loud noises. These intense sounds damage the cells, inhibiting their ability to pick up stimuli, resulting in decreased hearing ability.
Why Are Oil and Gas Workers at Risk?
In some jobs, such as working in the oil and gas industry, workers are exposed to louder noises throughout the course of the day. According to WorkSafeBC, more than a third of oil and gas workers showed some signs of noise-induced hearing loss. Of these workers, employees who work around on drilling operations proved to be particularly susceptible, as over 36% reportedly suffer from reduced hearing ability. Perhaps the most alarming aspect of the report, however, is that nearly 30% of workers in the oil and gas industry don’t use devices to protect their hearing while on the job.
How Can Hearing Loss Be Prevented
The first step to preventing noise-induced hearing loss in the workplace is to wear protective devices, such as earplugs or earmuffs in order to limit your sound exposure. Additionally, experts recommend only exposing yourself to excessive noise for short periods of time, so take breaks as often as possible in a quiet area and give your ears a rest. Through a combination of these techniques, you should be able to drastically reduce the amount of hearing loss you incur in any workplace setting.
Hearing loss prevention is especially important because once the hair cells in your inner ear are damaged or destroyed, there is no way to repair them. So be mindful of the noise level in your workplace and take measures to protect one of your most precious senses.
If you or someone you know would like more information about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!