How’s your hearing? | IMPAC health and safety

1 August, 2018  |  News

Do you work in a noisy construction environment? Are you taking the right precautions to protect your hearing? You might be at risk of noise-induced hearing loss.


gary bendig 169660 unsplashDo you know how to protect your hearing? Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash.


What is noise-induced hearing loss?

As explained by Hearing Excellence Ltd, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a type of hearing loss caused by exposure to excessive sound levels. It commonly happens due to repeated exposure over a long period of time.

According to The National Foundation for the Deafoccupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related diseases. Worldwide, about 30 million people are exposed to hazardous noise. And on average, 11 New Zealanders receive compensation for noise-induced hearing loss every day.

Because it can take years to notice any effects, the damage might be done by the time you try to act. However, there are prevention measures you can take.


How to prevent noise-induced hearing loss

WorkSafe have put an excellent Noise in construction checklist together, filled with tips and information about the best ways to manage noise at a construction site. Download the PDF here, or read on for their practical examples:

  • Eliminate noise during design. For example, design ducts into a structure rather than chasing channels in walls.
  • Substitute a less noisy process. For example, use a hydraulic block splitter rather than a cut-off saw to cut blocks.
  • Where noise levels still exceed 85 decibels (dB) provide hearing protection for your workers. For example, earmuffs and earplugs. Ensure that all workers wear hearing protection equipment (HPE) and that it is correctly fitted.


background bathroom conceptual 744922Earmuffs are an important preventative measure for hearing-loss. Photo by Mikołaj Bleja on Pexels.  


  • Select quiet equipment. For example, compare noise levels from power tools when buying or hiring equipment. Use information from the manufacturer or supplier and choose the quietest tools that are effective for the job. You can also reduce noise when selecting other types of tools. For example, choose plastic or rubber hammers rather than metal to free collars on falsework legs. 
  • Remove people from the vicinity of noisy work. For example, use a machine mounted breaker on an excavator with a good quality cab and exclude other people from the area while the breaker is in use.