Safe and sound: SafeWork SA launches hearing loss campaign


Monday, 22 April, 2024

Safe and sound: SafeWork SA launches hearing loss campaign

SafeWork SA has launched a six-month campaign targeting the risks associated with working in noisy environments. The campaign will raise awareness of noise-related risks and will include compliance audits across the manufacturing, warehousing, transport, construction and mining industries.

SafeWork SA inspectors will assess how noise is being managed to prevent hearing loss of workers, in accordance with work health and safety regulations; this will include who and when hearing tests are required. Inspectors will also issue statutory notices to businesses where non-compliance is identified.

Noise exposure is a preventable cause of occupational hearing loss and once acquired, it is irreversible. Long-term exposure to noise can cause other physical symptoms, whether the noise is hazardous enough to cause hearing loss or not. These include increased blood pressure and heart rate, stress, reduced concentration, insomnia and changes to hormone, cholesterol and stomach acid levels. Long-term exposure to noisy environments is also associated with a higher relative risk of accidents.

The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2023–2033 aims to reduce the frequency of hearing loss injury claims resulting in permanent impairment by 15%. Under the Work Health and Safety Act and Regulations 2012 (SA), businesses must provide audiometric (hearing) testing for a worker if they are required to frequently use personal hearing protectors as a control measure for noise that exceeds the exposure standard. This testing must take place within the first three months of their employment and then twice a year.

Without these tests, it is difficult for employers to determine the efficiency of the noise exposure controls that have been implemented in the workplace. SafeWork SA Executive Director Glenn Farrell said there is likely a lack of understanding among some employers of their obligations regarding noise levels, both in terms of assessing the risks and monitoring the health of their employees.

“The rising trend in occupational noise-induced hearing loss claims suggests that more can be done to prevent harm. We hope that by running this campaign, the awareness of the issue and measures to manage the risks of noise exposure will be raised and greater compliance will be observed,” Farrell said.

For more information about managing noise in the workplace, visit: www.safework.sa.gov.au.

Image credit: iStock.com/LeslieLauren

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