The UK''s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published a new contract research report, "Occupational Exposure to Noise and Hearing Difficulties in Great Britain."
The research is aimed at identifying, amongst other things, the occupations in which hearing difficulty and tinnitus are most common.
Hearing difficulty was most prevalent in transport and machinery operatives, construction workers, material moving and storage workers and repetitive assembly and inspection workers.
HSE found that significant difficulties of hearing and tinnitus are quite common, especially in older men, and symptoms are strongly associated with years of exposure in a noisy occupation.
The research showed the prevalence of moderate or worse hearing difficulty in construction workers was 11.5 percent compared to 5 percent for all occupations and of severe hearing difficulty was 5 percent compared to 1.9 percent for all occupations.
Construction workers quite often receive insufficient audiometric screening and tend to show poor compliance in wearing hearing protectors, according to the report.
HSE said these findings underline the need, expressed clearly by employers and employees alike, that special measures need to be taken to ensure that there is available sufficient occupational health support, to enable employers to effectively manage health risks such as noise.
HSE is currently investigating the feasibility of establishing a dedicated national occupational health scheme for the construction sector.
by Virginia Foran