Noise Induced Hearing Loss


Exposure to noise at work can harm worker’s health in many different ways:


Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the most common occupational disease in Europe and accounts for about one third of all work related diseases, ahead of skin and respiratory problems. In the UK some 170,000 people in the UK suffer deafness, tinnitus or other ear conditions as a result of exposure to excessive noise at work .It is permanent and is caused by irreversible destruction of hair cells in the cochlea which initially results in the loss of high pitched sounds and may extend to lower pitched sounds in the future

It is usually caused by prolonged exposure to loud noise but brief exposure to impulsive noise from, for example, gunshots, nail or rivet guns or direct metal on metal contact can have permanent effects such as permanent loss of hearing, tinnitus or even physical damage such as a split eardrum membrane.


Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Tinnitus is a ringing, hissing or booming sensation in the ear and excessive exposure to noise increases the risk of tinnitus particularly if it is impulsive noise. Tinnitus can also be the first sign of hearing damage.

Noise and Chemicals
Some dangerous chemicals are ototoxic i.e. poisonous to the ear and a synergy has been noted between noise and some organic solvents where they are used in a noisy environment. The direct evidence is limited, however awareness of this fact should be taken into account during risk assessments.

Noise and Pregnant Workers
Exposure of pregnant workers to high noise levels can affect the unborn child and have a later effect on hearing ability particularly with regard to low frequency exposure.


Increased risk of accidents or misunderstandingNoise at Work Dangers
Noise can lead to accidents or misunderstanding by:

  • Making it harder for workers to hear and understand signals and speech
  • Masking the sound of approaching danger or warning signals
  • Distraction of workers


Work Related Stress

Work related stress occurs when the demands of the work environment exceed the workers ability to cope with or control them.

Occupational noise can be one of many stressors and it impact is usually in combination with other factors










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