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Canada

Service industry workers at risk of permanent hearing loss due to noise, warns WorkSafeBC

Workers in B.C.’s bars and nightclubs are in danger of losing their hearing due to regular exposure to noise, warns WorkSafeBC.

The agency has launched a new education campaign for workers in the service industry, many of whom it says are regularly working in conditions where noise levels exceed dangerous levels.

The agency says it has received more than 3,300 claims related to noise-induced hearing loss in the last decade.

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According to WorkSafeBC, continued exposure to sound over 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing damage. It says studies have found audio levels in Vancouver and Victoria pubs and clubs regularly top that figure.

WorkSafeBC says that workers are often reluctant to use hearing protection because of the misconception that they will make it harder to communicate with customers.

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“Studies show that when noise levels reach 90 decibels or higher, hearing protection actually improves your ability to hear speech,” said WorkSafeBC director of prevention services Dan Strand.

“We need to change how we think about hearing protection in the service industry.”

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The agency added that any business in which noise levels are expected to exceed 85 decibels over an eight-hour shift is legally required to have a noise control and hearing conservation program.

WorkSafeBC has issued a new safety bulletin with its concerns, along with a variety of educational videos such as What Noise Does to Your Ears, Intensity and Duration of Noise, and How to Use Earplugs.

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