One in five UK tradespeople suffer hearing problems due to work

One in five UK tradespeople suffer hearing problems due to work

According to new research commissioned for Tinnitus Awareness Week (5-11 February), 21% of tradespeople have hearing problems due to their work.

The study by IronmongeryDirect surveyed workers across the nation to reveal the scale of hearing problems in the industry and how many people are taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

As well as those who are already experiencing problems, 21% fear they will have hearing issues in the future, and 19% have a colleague with symptoms.

Unfortunately, the problems appear to begin early – 49% of 18-34 year olds say that they have already started to have trouble hearing.

Despite many people seeing symptoms, the vast majority are not taking steps to protect themselves. Only 11% have their hearing checked regularly and just 17% say they always wear ear defenders when they should.

The problem is more significant in some trades than others, with bricklayers the most likely to have issues (50%).

The trades where workers are most likely to experience hearing problems are:

  1. Bricklayer – 50%
  2. Builder – 30%
  3. Carpenter – 27%
  4. Plumber – 23%
  5. Landscaper – 22%
  6. Painter decorator – 21%
  7. Caretaker/Maintenance – 21%
  8. Electrician – 16%
  9. Building surveyor – 11%
  10. Joiner – 10%

To help explain the importance of protecting your hearing at work, IronmongeryDirect has partnered with Nic Wray, Communications Manager at Tinnitus UK, to explain the consequences of not doing so.

Nic says, “Exposure to loud noise can damage your ears, leading to hearing loss and tinnitus. Noise starts to become a risk to hearing at 80 decibels (dBA) and in a working environment, hearing protection should be provided at 85 dBA or above.”

If you think your hearing could be affected by your surroundings, here are the signs to look out for:

  • You have to raise your voice to be heard.
  • You can’t hear or understand someone one metre (three feet) away from you.
  • Speech around you sounds dull or muffled if you move away from the noisy area.

To avoid this happening, Nic has also shared ways to protect yourself while working. He says, “Protecting your hearing is very important. Once the damage has been done, it cannot be repaired, only managed. Being aware of the problems that loud noise can cause and the steps you can take to protect yourself is vital.”

  • Keep your hearing protection safe, clean and in good condition.
  • Take regular breaks in a quiet(er) location.
  • Drink lots of water – staying hydrated is essential for ear health.
  • Get the right type of protection with the right levels of sound reduction.
  • Have your hearing checked regularly – many high street providers offer free hearing tests, or your GP can arrange one for you.

Ellis Osborn, Ecommerce Manager at IronmongeryDirect, says, “Hearing protection for tradespeople is incredibly important and our research suggests that there’s still more work to be done to make sure people are protected.

“It’s really important that individuals look after their hearing by wearing appropriate protection while working in loud settings, as well as scheduling regular hearing check-ups. That’s why we’ve partnered with Tinnitus UK to provide expert advice and hopefully start to address the problem within the industry.”

To read more on IronmongeryDirect, click here.

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