Before trying to answer the question of what causes industrial deafness, it would first be useful to know the definition of industrial deafness.
The term refers to the loss of hearing that results from excessive and prolonged exposure to very loud noises in a workplace setting. It is estimated that more than 1 million employees are at risk to suffer from industrial deafness from their current occupation.
There is a workplace guideline that protects workers from suffering from this condition. For example, employers are responsible for providing training and information regarding the effects of excessive noise on one’s hearing. Companies should also provide accessories such as mufflers to protect their workers from industrial deafness.
There is also what is termed as a lower and an upper noise guidelines. The lower action exposure level that has been set for employees is 80db daily or weekly exposure level. If the work environment produced this much noise, then the company is required to provide training and protection from noise. The upper action exposure level is 87db. The noise in any workplace environment should not exceed this level.
There are professions that are more prone to industrial deafness than others. If your work mostly in constructions sites or if you are work is related to music, then you are at a greater risk of suffering from industrial deafness than other people from other industries. If you work as an engineer or in a factory, then you should be careful as well.
So what causes industrial deafness? The loud noise usually comes from tools and equipment. Therefore, these tools and equipment are also the main causes of industrial deafness. Some of the tools and equipment that produces loud noise include: 40 ton press, Bench grinder and finisher, CNC punch press, Concrete vibrator, Cyclone separators, Metal cutting guillotine, Pneumatic transfer systems, Powdermill, Reciprocating compressor, Sand burner and many others.
Industrial deafness can also be classified into many different categories, based on the severity of the loss of hearing:
Temporary loss of hearing – This refers to hearing loss that lasts from 15 to 48 hours. People who suffer from temporary hearing loss experience difficulty in recognizing voices.
Permanent loss of hearing – This is a more severe type of hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss can be acquired through repeated incidences of temporary hearing loss. As the name suggests, this condition is not reversible.
Acoustic trauma – This is caused by a sudden blast of loud noise such as a bomb explosion.
Tinnitus – This is a condition characterized by a constant ringing or buzzing sound.