Hearing Loss Prevention

The Benefits of a Data-Driven Approach to Hearing Loss Prevention

A Data-Driven Approach to Hearing Loss Prevention

Hearing loss cannot be reversed, but it can be prevented with the right combination of tools and technology.

The hearing loss experienced by any one person is dependent upon a wide variety of factors that go beyond the volume or duration of their exposure to noise, and includes their work schedule, workload (both mental and physical), and other health conditions.

This is why a personalised, data-driven approach to hearing loss prevention is key to the success of any initiative to meaningfully mitigate a workers’ exposure to this irreversible risk.

Hearing loss among workers in the UK

According to the HSE, more than two million people are exposed to “unacceptable levels of noise at work” each year. Additionally, “noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the second most common reason for employers' liability insurance claims for occupational health.”

Exposure to noise in certain environments - like construction worksites or manufacturing plants - is unavoidable. But this exposure - and efforts to mitigate the risks associated with it - must be taken seriously. And providing individual workers with PPE isn’t enough. Many workers do not even have the correct PPE supplied to them. Moreover, it’s not uncommon for workers to wear their PPE incorrectly.

And in industries where external risk factors for hearing loss are present, the risk that workers will develop NIHL even where PPE is provided and worn correctly, is high. Recent studies have shown that the construction industry in the UK has the highest risk of burn-out in the nation, followed closely by manufacturing. This is significant because mental and physical workload is known to be a major risk factor for hearing loss.

But the risk to workers caused by factors like inadequate or incorrectly worn PPE, fatigue, or exposure to noise goes beyond just hearing loss. When workers can’t hear warnings or verbal commands, their risk of injury from dangers like collisions or hazards can also increase.

The risk of NIHL and the associated risks that accompany hearing loss demand a more sophisticated approach to prevention: one that empowers teams to take control of their risk environment through reliable, accurate monitoring that enables swift, effective action. This is especially true in environments - like construction worksites - where noise levels and exposure can vary dramatically day-to-day.

A solution like Smart Alert - an ear plug that not only provides protection from noise but also monitors the level of noise entering the ear, is an ideal way to prevent hearing damage in the workplace. Reactec has partnered with Minuendo - the creators of this revolutionary technology - to enhance Smart Alert with powerful Analytics that empower duty holders and individual workers with the insight they need to take faster preventive action.

How a sophisticated, data-driven approach to hearing prevention benefits workers

  • A data-driven approach is personalised: due to the varied factors that can impact an individual’s risk of developing hearing loss, the best approach to prevention is a personalised approach. Analytics that offer insight into behavioural patterns, which can be overlaid with information about other known risk factors - like exposure to vibration, for example - are key to understanding an individual’s risk and deploying effective preventive measures.
  • A data-driven approach helps identify patterns: Per the HSE, it’s imperative to “Change the work pattern or the layout of the workplace” in order to effectively combat the risk of NIHL among workers. But in order to do this effectively, employers must first understand what patterns exist, how they are exacerbating exposure to risk from noise, and for which employees, at what times. 
  • A data-driven approach measures the efficacy of your efforts: it’s important to personalise your approach to hearing loss prevention, and it’s crucial to amend work patterns where you’ve identified areas of increased risk or concern. But without the ability to gauge the success of these initiatives, you’re left guessing as to whether your efforts are effective. With a modern platform that’s purpose-built to help you understand your workers’ exposure to risk and whether your efforts to reduce or eliminate it have been successful, you’ll become more empowered and more agile than ever before.
  • Hearing loss prevention isn’t reversible, but it is preventable. Get in touch with our expert team to discuss our solutions for NIHL, and take strides to start better protecting your workforce, today.

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