Causes of Industrial Deafness

Excessive and prolonged exposure to loud noise in the workplace can cause workers to be susceptible to cases of industrial deafness. According to the Health and Safety Executive over 1 million employees are currently at risk of suffering from future industrial deafness due to the conditions in which they currently work.

The HSE set out to apply a policy to companies that would help to protect the hearing of their employees and part of that is the implementation of lower and upper noise levels guidelines. The lower exposure action level set out to employers by the Health and Safety Executive is an 80dB weekly or daily exposure level. At this level the employer must be responsible for providing employees with training and information on noise levels as well as making hearing protection available to staff. At the upper end of the noise scale, no employee should be subjected to average noise levels in excess of 87 dB (taking hearing protection into account) in the workplace.

There are specific occupations that have higher rates of industrial deafness than others. These are often in construction, music, engineering or factory work amongst others. Our section on workplaces susceptible to cases of industrial deafness goes into more detail with regards to specific high risk professions.

Tools that can cause industrial deafness

Below is a non-exhaustive list of tools or activities that when used or performed over prolonged periods without the correct hearing protection could cause hearing problems or industrial deafness.

  • 40 ton press
  • Bench grinder and finisher
  • Braider for electric cable
  • Break pad grinder
  • Brick oven fan noise control
  • Coating pans
  • CNC punch press
  • Cold cutting circular saw
  • Concrete vibrator
  • Cyclone separators
  • De-palleter
  • Elastic yarn covering machine
  • Gas burner noise in sand burner
  • Hammer mill
  • High speed blanking press
  • Hydraulic power pack
  • Metal cutting guillotine
  • Multi-headed grinder
  • Notching press
  • Pedestal grinder
  • Pneumatic exhausts
  • Pneumatic transfer systems
  • Powder mill
  • Power blasting
  • Press flywheel
  • Reciprocating compressor
  • Rubber granulator
  • Sand burner
  • Sugar beet processing
  • Transfer of components using a conveyor and metal chute