Noise from trains is enough to affect the hearing of anyone who has ever sat at a railroad crossing. The loud noise severely affects railroad workers’ hearing every day.
Hearing loss is bad enough for the average 70 year old.
“Sixty percent of the population at age 70 has significant hearing loss and most of that is noise-induced,” Dr. Hinrich Staecker, a University of Kansas Hospital physician and foremost expert on hearing and how the brain reacts to audio, told Kansas City TV.
For railroad workers like Randy Doyle, the incidence of hearing loss grows even higher.
“I rode on trains as a conductor for about 25 years,” Doyle told Kansas City TV. “With a lot of background noise, it’s very difficult to discern in a spoken conversation. If we had some background noise, I’d really have to focus on what you’re saying. I can actually read lips now, kind of a survival thing.”
Doyle is among a group of railroad union representatives forming a partnership with the University of Kansas Hospital. The group hopes to educate their members on hearing loss prevention and sign up for clinical trials to potentially sharpen their hearing.
“I had kind of reserved to the fact that I would never recover my hearing, so yeah, it gives me a lot of hope and I’d like to see this develop,” Doyle told Kansas City TV.
Widespread Hearing Loss Solutions for Unions
The union’s partnership with the hospital could reach tens of thousands of railroad employees nationwide with more than 7,000 in the Kansas City area.
The Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union claim that they reached out to the major railroad companies to participate in the partnership. The union says the companies declined because the project had little to do with financial profit.
However, when Kansas City TV 5 asked CSX Corp. and Union Pacific for comment, the companies claimed that they didn’t know the union was participating in the program.
“BNSF’s audiologist was invited to a seminar or informational session at the University of Kansas a year or more ago, but was unable to attend,” Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. said in a statement about the University of Kansas Hospital. “BNSF is not aware of any request to become a partner in a Kansas audiology unit.”
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