Hearing management

Updated 13 December 2017

Noisy bars threaten workers' hearing

Nightclub employees could be exposed to dangerously high noise levels, putting them at greater risk for hearing loss, according to a new study.

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Nightclub employees could be exposed to dangerously high noise levels, putting them at greater risk for hearing loss, according to a new study.

The study also found that many nightclub managers in Ireland are unaware of noise regulations and do not attempt to protect the health and safety of their employees with hearing tests and noise-awareness training.

How the study was done

For the study, recently published in the International Journal of Noise & Health, a Dublin researcher analysed the noise exposure of two nightclub employees at each of nine different nightclubs in Ireland. The workers were on average 25 years old and had worked in bars for five years.

A sound-level metre was placed at the bar closest to the dance floor and a dosimeter was attached to the shirt of each participant. The club managers also completed a questionnaire and were interviewed on noise-related health and safety legislation.

The average daily noise exposure of these employees, who worked 20 hours a week on average, was 92 decibels, the study revealed. Between 11:30pm and 1am, the noise levels in the clubs rose by an average of 7 decibels. A 3-decibel increase is akin to doubling the sound pressure level.

Study author Aoife Kelly, a researcher at the Dublin Institute of Technology, said that, over time, noise exposure greater than 85 decibels for eight hours a day can lead to permanent hearing loss.

Noise risk assessments done

The nightclub managers had little awareness of noise legislation, according to an institute news release. Noise risk assessments were made at only two clubs involved in the study. None of the clubs offered their employees hearing tests or trained their staff about the health risks of noise exposure.

Although work safety laws in the European Union require hearing protection be provided to workers exposed to more than 85 decibels, only two clubs provided this protection. Only one actually required its employees to wear it.

Kelly said more people need to be aware of noise exposure regulations, and more club managers need to comply with the legislation.

The study findings are similar to results seen in studies conducted in the United States, Britain and Australia, according to the news release.

The researchers said noise-induced hearing loss is the most commonly reported occupational disease in Europe.

Read more:
Noise levels of common sounds

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders provides more information on noise-induced hearing loss.


(Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

 

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Hearing Expert

Dr Kara Hoffman graduated from UCT in 2004, thereafter she completed her year of community service in Durban. In 2010 she completed her Masters Degree in Paediatric Aural Rehabilitation from UKZN. In 2016, she became a Doctor of Audiology through the University of Arizona (ATSU). Dr Hoffman and her partner Lauren Thompson opened a fully diagnostic audiology practice called Thompson & Hoffman Audiology Inc. In 2011 with world-class technology and equipment to be able to offer the broad public all hearing-related services including hearing testing for adults and babies, vestibular (balance) assessments and rehabilitation, industrial audiology, hearing devices, central auditory processing assessments for school-aged children, school screening, neonatal hearing screening programmes at Alberlito and Parklands Hospital, cochlear implants and other implantable devices, medicolegal assessments and advanced electroacoustic assessments of hearing. Thompson and Hoffman Audiology Inc. are based at Alberlito Hospital in Ballito, St Augustines Hospital in Durban and at 345 Essenwood Road, Musgrave. The practices are all wheelchair friendly. There are three audiologists that practice from Thompson & Hoffman – including Dr Kara Hoffman, Lauren Thompson & Minette Lister. The practice boasts professional, highly qualified, and extensive diagnostic services where all your hearing healthcare needs can be met. The additional licensing in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation, paediatric rehabilitation and cochlear implantation places this practice in one of the top specialist audiological positions in South Africa, with a wealth of experience in all clinical areas of audiology and is a very well respected and sought-after practice.

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