April 6, 2010:
Work noise to be removed by design
Less noise rather than more hearing tests is the way forward in the quest to reduce work related hearing injuries, according to researchers in the Netherlands. Noise reducing design is one option.
Hearing protection and hearing tests are common precautions taken to protect employees against noise induced hearing injuries in the workplace.
But according to a review by Dutch researchers of 21 studies from around the world, they are rarely effective.
Improper use of hearing protection equipment is one likely reason that the precautionary programmes fail, said Erik Kateman of the Center for Expertise in Hearing and Noise Problems in Doetinchem, the Netherlands.
Kateman identified reduction of noise as the most effective precaution to prevent hearing loss. Noise reduction begins at the early stages of design of tools and equipment, as well as in the design of the workplace facility.
In addition, workplaces should provide improved training in effective use of hearing protection, noted the Dutch researcher.
Source: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Issue 3.