WorkSafe WA has reminded workers, particularly those engaged in construction work, of the importance of protecting their hearing. 1 in 5 five construction workers say they experience problems with their hearing and many aren’t aware that common chemicals in products can be a risk.
As well as noise in the workplace, some chemicals can also cause damage to our hearing – these are referred to as ototoxic chemicals.
According to the WorkSafe WA, ototoxic chemicals affect our hearing mechanism by entering the bloodstream either through inhalation, swallowing or through skin absorption. They then circulate through the blood vessels supplying the inner ear and damage the cells.
In order to minimise ototoxic chemical exposure you need to know which products contain them. The more common ones include:
- solvents in paints
- glues and degreasers
- lead in old paint
- solders or batteries
- styrene in resins, and
- carbon monoxide in the engine exhaust.
All workers are encouraged to read labels and Safety Data Sheet (SDS or MSDS) to find out what is in the chemical products they use. Water-based products should be used by preference where possible and safety directions directions for the use of chemicals should always be followed.
Wearing hearing protection in noisy workplace areas is still also of utmost importance to protect your hearing.
- If you are significantly exposed to any of these chemicals, you should request annual hearing tests or audiometric testing, as is recommended in the Safe Work Australia Code of Practice for managing noise and preventing hearing loss at work.
Contact us if you are ready to learn more…