Industrial deafness is a common type of hearing sensitivity impairment, which is caused by the noise levels existing in the industrial work places. Industrial deafness is also called the occupational deafness or noise-induced deafness. It occurs due to prolonged impact of noise prevailing in a work environment.
Industrial deafness is also a legal term very commonly used in the claims of hearing-loss caused by noisy environment at workplaces. There are many types of industry which produce higher than the standard threshold defined for noise levels; in such industries, there are some well-defined and recommended rules and regulations falling under Health, Security, and Environment (HSE) Protection Policy. There are certain rules and regulations imposed on the industries producing higher than the defined levels of noise at workplace. Any industry producing more than recommended noise level has to follow the guidelines to reduce the noises as well as to protect its workers from the impact of that noise. The maximum acceptable threshold of noise level is 80 decibels. The place where noise level persists consistently over 80 dB is considered to be a noisy place and requires taking measures as defined in HSE policy.
Main categories and major causes
Industrial deafness is categorized in four major types given below:
- Temporary Loss of Hearing
- Permanent Loss of Hearing
- Acoustic Trauma
Temporary Loss of Hearing
Temporary loss of hearing is associated with those symptoms of the patients in which the ability to hear a normal voices is lost due to continuous exposure to heavy levels of noise. This condition will improve after few hours of silent environment. The time may vary from patient to patient, which typically ranges from 15 to 48 hours.
Permanent Loss of Hearing
Permanent loss of hearing is a severe type of hearing loss in the category of industrial deafness in which ear cells are permanently damaged and never recover even after going into quieter or silent environment for long periods of times. This type of loss can also be acquired through repeated incidents of temporary loss of hearing or through heavy noise more than 90 decibels continuously for a long duration. This may take very long periods of exposure of ears to high noise levels; it has many pre-permanent hearing loss symptoms to catch the disease earlier. This is irreversible if not detected and treated in early stages.
Acoustic trauma is a type of loss of hearing in which a sudden burst of noise damages the ear cells, and thus damage listening sensitivity permanently. The examples of such noises are bomb explosion, sudden shooting, high volume music concerts and many other abrupt eruptions of high levels noise. The noise levels of such eruptions, which cause acoustic trauma are considered to be 118 dB or above.
Consistent whistling, buzzing or ringing sound is associated with this category of hearing loss. This can be sustained by any of above mentioned causes in all of the above three categories. This is a temporary phenomenon and is repaired automatically on spending some time in quieter environment.
If and industrial worker suffers from any kind of deafness mentioned above due to industrial noise, the damages can be claimed through a legal advisor.