Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) occurs when an individual exposes himself to harmful noise and sounds for long durations of time.  Every day, one experiences different noises and sounds around his or her environment. Ordinarily, these sounds are at safe levels hence not harmful as they are not too loud.  Harmful noise destroys the hair cells found in the sensitive structures of the ear. Unfortunately, once the harmful sounds destroy the hair cells, an individual’s hearing abilities become permanently affected(Selwyn, 2010). Noise induced hearing loss due to workplace exposure is on the rise. Researchers estimate that a majority of individuals with noise induced hearing loss is as a result of their occupation.  Approximately, 28 million workers are exposed to dangerous levels of noise at their workplace. Hearing loss at the workplace is known as occupational hearing loss and in US it is among the most widespread occupation related conditions.

Case Scenario

In this scenario a worker, 50years of age, has suffered hearing loss. The worker works in a construction site and would like to remain at the job. Though the first culprit of his hearing loss would be the construction site, there are other factors that can lead to hearing loss.  For construction workers, the chances of going deaf are high due to long term exposure to noise at the construction site. The 50year old would have lost his hearing due not using hearing protection. In a construction industry, it is advisable that workers wear protective gear that ranges from boots, overall, gloves and protective cover for the ears.  Leniency in the construction industry see workers engage in construction projects without hearing protection gear(Ross, 2007). This leads to gradually hearing loss which if neglected results to permanent hearing loss. The construction worker could also have lost his hearing due to the task he engaged in at the construction site. Some tasks such as welding involve exposing a worker to old noise for long durations. This increases the risk of hearing loss. The constructor could also have lost his hearing due to lack of knowledge of the danger of long term exposure to noise at the constructions site. The 50 years old worker has probably been in the construction industry for long.

Without adequate knowledge on the need for hearing protection gear, he gradually lost his hearing due to exposure. The worker may also have lost his hearing due to non workplace related exposure. Age, for instance, can be a cause of hearing loss. The worker is 50years and with age the body deteriorates. The worker could have lost his hearing due to his advancing age (Lee, 2007).  The worker should also have suffered hearing loss due to an ear infection or disease that he ignored.  Hearing loss can also be attributed to any injuries that the worker exposed him to. Regardless of the causes of hearing loss, it is vital to identify common symptoms of hearing loss.  Some of the common symptoms include increased sensitivity to sound in which some sounds appear too loud. An individual also experiences difficulty following conversation as he can hear some words as he misses others.  In noisy areas, an individual with hearing problems cannot hear. The individual may also portray a tendency of talking loudly even when it is quiet (Selwyn, 2010).

The individual also experiences a persistent ringing sound in his ears. The most common effect associated with hearing loss is the difficulty with hearing surrounding noises or voices. At the construction site, the workers may experience difficulty understanding what people are saying, he may fail to hear alarms in case of emergencies or shut down procedures.Having a construction worker with hearing loss can be extremely risky for the rest of the construction workers and the successful completion of the construction project.  It is vital that the extent of the hearing loss for the 50 year old worker is first determined. If the worker has total hearing loss, then it will be impossible for him to continue working for the construction company. However, if it is partial hearing loss the worker can use a hearing aid and continue working (Eileen, 2007). It is also vital to consider the precise role that the construction worker with impaired hearing will do. In a construction site, there are several duties such as movement of machineries that require coordination with other construction workers. An employee with impaired hearing should not work in such sensitive areas. An error or misunderstanding can be catastrophic for him or his colleagues.


The construction industry is one of professions where the risk of hearing loss is high. This is especially if the workers do not lay emphasis on the need of wearing hearing protection. Noise induced hearing loss occurs over time and gradually and individual exposed to loud noises for long duration loses his hearing. It is essential that construction sites adopted noise control, strategies to safeguard their workers from NIGL. Use of hearing protection, sound barriers and enclosures to block harmful sounds from the workers must be adopted.


Eileen, D. (2007). Noise and loss of hearing. The journal of school health, 77(5), 225-31. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from ProQuest medical library database.

Lee D Hager. (2007). Noise measurement in hearing loss prevention. Professional safety, 52(7), 49-51. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from ABI/INFORM Global database

Ross, P. (2007). Hearing conservation: Effectively preventing noise-induced hearing loss. Professional Safety, 52(6), 52-59. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from ABI/INFORM Global.

Selwyn, B. (2010). Noise measurement & control. Professional safety, 55(5), 16-18. Retrieved May 29, 2012, from ABI/INFORM Global.

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