Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Am I industrially deaf? - How to find out if you are

Did you know that it takes about 15 years for people to realise that they are going deaf? For many people, the delay is due to a refusal to admit the problem. 

Others simply don’t realise they have a problem with their hearing, while others work in loud environments so they have become used to not being able to hear very well. Here’s how to evaluate whether you’re suffering from hearing loss:

Test yourself online

On the Action for Hearing website, you can undertake a fast, simple and easy hearing check online. The online test only takes around 5 minutes and can give a good indication of where you stand in terms of the average hearing for your age and gender. It’s important to note that this is not a full hearing assessment, only a hearing test designed to show whether you may suffer from hearing loss and encourage you to take action. 

One of the biggest issues associated with becoming deaf is the inability to correctly hear when there is background noise – this test measures you hearing levels against this ‘speech in-noise’ by saying three numbers with you need to record. The better you do at the test the more difficult it becomes in order to find your limits. If you feel as though you may have hearing issues in one ear then this test can help you find out as it assess each ear individually. 

Ask yourself some questions

If you do not wish to take the online hearing test, you can answer a series of questions that can help identify whether you may have hearing issues. Be sure to be entirely honest with yourself, or answer with a partner. The questions are as follows: 

1. Do you sometimes have difficulty understanding what people are saying on the phone, radio or TV?

2. Do you feel that people aren’t speaking clearly or are mumbling?

3. Do you constantly ask people to talk louder or repeat what they have said?

4. Is it difficult to follow a conversation in a noisy restaurant, crowded room or with background noise?

5. Do people get annoyed because you constantly misunderstand what they say?

If you have answered yes to two or more of these questions, it is likely that you may suffer from hearing loss. To get a complete evaluation of your hearing you need to see a GP or audiologist who will carry out a complete assessment of your hearing and tell you the likely cause of your hearing loss – whether it’s old age, working in a noisy environment, loud music or physical trauma.

What is industrial deafness?

Industrial deafness could affect over a million workers in the UK who operate in loud workplaces without the necessary safety equipment. There are a huge range of different jobs where industrial deafness could be a problem, everything from working in a nightclub to operating a pneumatic drill.

If your hearing loss is a result of industrial deafness you may be entitled to compensation. If you work in a loud environment and your employer failed to provide you with suitable protective equipment, or ensure that the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded, then you could be entitled to compensation to help pay for medical costs.

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