Industrial deafness is avoidable
Industrial deafness, also known as noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), is permanent. It’s also preventable.
NIHL is caused by excessive noise. It can be temporary or permanent, depending on the degree of a person’s exposure to noise.
In the NSW coal mining industry, the noise hazards arising from equipment and processes leave workers exposed to risk. As a coal mine worker, you should be aware of workplace noise exposures and implement effective noise control strategies to minimise risk.
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If you experience any of the above symptoms, be sure to wear personal hearing protection and/or get your hearing tested.
Hearing loss usually occurs gradually, so you may not realise it until it’s too late. The good news is that hearing loss can be prevented if noise is controlled and personal hearing protection is worn.
In 2015, 90.7 per cent of coal mine workers attending for periodic medicals report regular exposure to noise, with 65 per cent reporting they ‘always’ wear hearing protection. Those with significant loss are nearly all males over 40 with long-term industry exposure.
Longwall operators: 92.0 dBA is approximately equivalent to 1.6 hours for unprotected exposures; which is the same as an 8 hour dose of noise at 85 dBA.
Continuous miner operators: 91 dBA is approximately equivalent to 2 hours of unprotected exposures; which is the same as an 8 hour dose at 85 dBA.
Coal Services provides E-A-RFit testing, which tests how much noise reduction is being offered by different types of hearing protection, specific to an individual worker.
CS Health conducted 618 tests performed during 2014-15, and the CMTS occupational hygiene team undertake around 500 noise dosimetry assessments within the NSW coal mining industry every year.
For further information about NIHL and how you can prevent it, please download our ‘Managing noise in the coal industry to protect hearing’ booklet.