Hearing loss in drilling industry workers is on the increase according to recent figures out of Canada.
Their figures show a significant increase in noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) among oil and gas drilling workers.

Most worrying is that of the 294 oil and gas drilling workers showing signs of NIHL, 65% of them were under the age of 35

Recent noise-induced hearing loss  among Canadian oil and gas drilling sector workers has jumped from 33% in 2012 to 45% in 2017.
By comparison, 13% of workers in all other noisy industries showed signs of NIHL in 2017.

According to WorkSafe British Columbia, “while NIHL has increased in the drilling sector, the percentage of workers who reported wearing a hearing protection device has also increased, from 94 to 98 percent, with a heavy reliance on foam earplugs”.  WorkSafeBC occupational audiologist Sasha Brown said there were a number of reasons why workers may be diagnosed with noise-induced hearing loss even though they wore some form of hearing protection.

“The earplugs or earmuffs might be the wrong size, inserted or worn incorrectly, not worn for long enough, or they may not be providing enough protection for the duration and intensity of noise exposure.”

In Canada, employers are required to provide hearing-loss prevention programs, monitor noise levels and conduct annual hearing tests for workers exposed to hazardous noise levels to prevent permanent hearing damage.

hearing loss in drilling industry workers WASimilar to Australia, in Canada, hazardous noise levels are defined as 85 decibels in the A scale for eight hours or the equivalent (the A scale is used for measuring environmental noise).

Employers have a duty of care to reduce the risk of around hearing loss in drilling industry workers.  There are WorkSafe WA and DMIRS measures required to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.

These include:

  • Ensure all workers who are at risk are wearing sufficient hearing protection that fits, and that they understand how to properly wear it.
  • Make sure workers insert or wear the correct hearing protection prior to entering a noisy environment and wear it until after exiting the noisy location.
  • Rotate workers to different positions so they spend less time in noisy environments.
  • Identify potential engineering controls to mitigate risk of exposure.
  • Ensure workers have their hearing tested and are aware of their hearing-test results.

CHP conduct onsite audiometric testing in Perth and around WA.

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NIHL Workers Compensations claims in Canada

  • Since 2006 there have been more than 41,000 accepted claims for NIHL in British Columbia alone.

NIHL Workers Compensations claims in Australia

  • Between July 2002 and June 2007 there were about 16 500 successful workers’ compensation claims for industrial deafness involving permanent impairment due to noise.
  • The economic burden of NIHL is borne by workers and their families, business owners and managers, and the wider society.