Noisy workplaces can make workers deaf

March 10, 2009,

The majority of the 650,000 employees from Quebec's manufacturing sector - specifically those working in metallurgy and sawmilling - are exposed to noise levels that exceed governmental norms.

According to a new study from the Université de Montréal, the Université Laval and the Institut national de santé publique du Québec, extra decibels increase the risks of both work-related accidents and road collisions. The findings will be reported in three journals: Occupation Environmental Medicine, Accident Analysis and Prevention and Traffic Injury Prevention.

The researchers studied a sample of 53,000 workers. "More than 60 percent were exposed to noises exceeding the norm of 90 decibels (dB) per day, which is equivalent to the sounds that emanate when a subway enters a station," says Michel Picard, a professor at the Université de Montréal's School of Speech Therapy and Audiology, who conducted the study along with his colleague Tony Leroux.

Quebec has not revised its workplace norms in close to 40 years. Throughout North America, including other Canadian provinces, the norm is set at 85 dB. This is a clear indication that Quebec is lax when it comes to noise in the work environment.

When a worker is exposed to noise exceeding 90 dB during a day's work, that worker is 6.2 percent more likely to have a work accident than colleagues working in the same environment with less noise. If the worker suffers hearing loss, his risk of injury is 7 percent greater.

Out of 43,250 reported work accidents, 5,287 were associated to noise. "What is particularly worrying is the young age of the workers," says Picard. The average individual was a 36-year-old male exposed to the noise for 13 years. And these hearing losses are permanent.

The researchers also focused on the driving records of workers exposed to noise in the workplace. By cross-referencing with data from the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec they analyzed 46,000 men who were exposed to more than 100dB in their workplace.

The risk of an accident increases by 6 percent for those who still have good hearing. However, the risk increases to 31 percent for workers who suffered important hearing losses. These are not minor car accidents, but serious collisions.

According to Picard, this new study clearly indicates that workplace are a problem neglected by authorities. "Technology exists to reduce noise in the workplace," stressesPicard. "All that's missing is the political will."

Source: University of Montreal

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.