Ever since we started this blog, we have covered noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. As we are approaching Tinnitus Awareness Week (6-12 February 2017), we are taking the opportunity to talk about this subject again and raise its awareness among our health and safety colleagues in manufacturing, engineering, processing, construction and transport industries.
According to the charity Action on Hearing Loss, an estimated 10% of adults in the UK have mild tinnitus. That’s six million people. Around 1% of adults (about 600,000 people) in the UK have tinnitus that affects their quality of life. Hearing loss or tinnitus are invisible to the naked eye so the symptoms can be missed or easily forgotten. For those who are suffering from it, it is real and can affect their personal life in various degrees of severity. It is worth remembering that tinnitus in particular is not a disease or an illness, it is usually a symptom of a problem within the hearing pathway.
Refresh your knowledge of the hearing process here to see how truly amazing this sense is and why you should look after it!
Possible causes of tinnitus
Tinnitus is difficult to pinpoint but it can be linked to:
- hearing loss
- exposure to loud noise
- emotional stress
- certain medication
- hear or head injuries; some diseases of the ear and ear infections
- how you are positioned (so that you hear it when you are lying down, sitting or turning your head)
a combination of any of the above.
What does Tinnitus sound like?
The experience of tinnitus varies from person to person but a sufferer may hear sounds such as buzzing, whistling, hissing, humming or whooshing. In addition, people affected may hear a single sound or two or more, and it is common for the sounds to change. If under stress, the tinnitus can also change in pitch or tone and become more intrusive.
How can Pulsar Instruments help?
At Pulsar Instruments, we are particularly interested in noise-induced hearing loss or tinnitus resulting from long or repeated exposure to noise above permissible levels in a work environment. Most hearing loss or tinnitus caused by harmful noise exposure is permanent – there is no cure at present. However, it does not need to be so and it is no longer acceptable to say that it ‘comes with the job’. So it’s important to take precautions against loud noise at work. By following established guidance and legislation, employers can control noise in work-based situations, prevent harm and safeguard hearing.
To determine whether a working environment is exposing employees to potential hearing damage, safety professionals are expected to carry out regular noise assessments which may involve measuring noise levels and individual exposure over a period of time. Noise measurement equipment such as sound level meters and personal noise dosemeters, enables such assessments to be carried out accurately. The reporting and analysis software that come with them also provides employers with the opportunity to prove they are monitoring noise levels in accordance with the Law.
Support Tinnitus Awareness Week next month 6-12 February 2017.
Does your business require assistance with implementing a hearing safe strategy? Perhaps you would like to carry out noise measurements but are not sure where to start? Whatever your noise measurement needs, Pulsar Instruments can help you source the right piece of monitoring equipment, learn how to use it effectively and achieve compliance with the Noise at Work Regulations.
Get in touch with Pulsar Instruments to discuss how to safeguard your staff from noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.