Occupational Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (ONIHL) refers to hearing impairment caused by exposure to hazardous levels of noise in the workplace over an extended period. It’s a significant occupational health concern affecting workers in various industries where high noise levels are present.

Here are some key points about ONIHL:

Causes: ONIHL is primarily caused by prolonged exposure to loud noises in the workplace. This exposure can damage the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear, leading to permanent hearing loss. The severity of the hearing loss depends on factors such as the intensity and duration of noise exposure, as well as individual susceptibility.

Symptoms: Symptoms of ONIHL may include difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and overall hearing impairment. Initially, individuals may not notice significant changes in their hearing, but over time, the damage accumulates, resulting in noticeable hearing loss.

Risk Factors: Workers in industries such as manufacturing, construction, mining, agriculture, and entertainment are at higher risk of developing ONIHL due to exposure to loud machinery, equipment, tools, and other sources of occupational noise. Factors such as duration of exposure, noise intensity, and lack of hearing protection can increase the risk.

Prevention: Preventing ONIHL involves implementing various measures to reduce exposure to hazardous noise levels in the workplace. This may include engineering controls to reduce noise at the source, administrative controls such as job rotation to limit individual exposure, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) like earplugs or earmuffs.

Regulations and Standards: AS/NZS 1269.4:2014 is the Australian and New Zealand Standard for Occupational Noise Management, Part 4: Audiometric Testing. This standard provides guidelines and requirements for conducting audiometric testing in the workplace to assess and monitor workers’ hearing health.

Management and Treatment: Once ONIHL occurs, it is usually irreversible. However, early detection through audiometric testing and regular monitoring can help prevent further deterioration of hearing. Management strategies may include hearing aids, assistive listening devices, and communication strategies to improve quality of life for affected individuals.

Overall, ONIHL is a preventable occupational health condition that requires proactive measures to minimise workplace noise exposure and protect the hearing health of workers. Employers, occupational health professionals, and workers all play crucial roles in preventing and managing ONIHL effectively.

IMMEX can assist with audiometric testing as per the AS/NZS 1269.4:2014 standard.

IMMEX is also able to assist with ongoing serial audiometry for monitoring and follow-up.

For more information about our pre-employment and other medical assessments, please contact us.