Work Environments Can Cause Hearing Loss Among Workers: Study


HANOI : A new study conducted by the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Science and Technology, raises an alarm on increasing number of workers suffering from hearing loss due to their work environments, reports the Vietnam news agency (VNA). The department conducted a survey on noise levels in the workplace at 2,400 enterprises in the textile and garment, steel and mechanical, footwear and printing sectors, said doctor Nguyen Dang Quoc Chan from the department.

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Survey results showed that out of every four to five enterprises, there is one company in which the noise level is beyond acceptable standards. The acceptable standard is the safe level under which the centre says hearing loss will not occur. The steel-mechanical sector was found to have 48 per cent of enterprises not meeting acceptable noise degree levels, putting it at the top of the list.

Next on the list in terms of proportion of noise violators comes the printing, then textile and garment and finally footwear sectors. Most of the companies did not apply measures to protect workers against noise with solutions such as reducing sound through the installation of noise barriers and sound-absorbing materials, VNA quoted Chan as saying here.

The department also tested the hearing ability of 4,000 workers working in the companies. Among them, 1,200 workers have reduced hearing ability and 220 others have become deaf. This means about one out of every eight workers has suffered total hearing loss through their jobs, according to researchers. Many workers wanted to hide their affection because of fear of being dismissed, Chan said, adding that only 23.9 per cent of enterprises surveyed supplied workers with labour safety equipment.

Doctor Chan said that it was necessary to raise awareness of company leaders and workers, as well as to give training on how to prevent noise pollution.

Some measures suggested to diminish noise pollution in the workplace are to use alternative materials for production equipment and to construct barriers to separate work areas. Chan stressed that workers’ hearing ability should be tested every six months to detect hearing loss at an early stage. Companies should also have measures of personnel arrangement and rotation to avoid any worsening of hearing problems, he added.

Relevant authorities also needed to boost inspections and punishment of companies which did not ensure their workers’ health safety. This would help raise company owners’ responsibility of taking care of their labourer’s health and reduce the risk of workers becoming deaf, Chan said.