Young Construction Workers Less Likely to Wear Hearing Protection
Prince George, B.C. – New statistics indicate about a quarter of all young construction workers aren’t getting the message about the importance of wearing the proper hearing protection while at work.
WorkSafeBC says 24 per cent of young construction workers – young meaning 21 or younger – reported not wearing hearing protection last year.
That’s compared to 13 per cent of workers over the age of 50 and 11 per cent of workers in all other age groups. In addition, young workers in construction are less likely to wear hearing protection as compared to young workers in other industries, such as manufacturing and primary resources.
The data was collected from more than 160,000 hearing tests throughout the province. About 50,000 of those tested worked in the construction industry.
By regulation, employers are required to have their workers who deal with noise participate in the tests.
Hazardous noise levels are defined as 85 decibels in the ‘A’ scale for eight hours or the equivalent.
Sasha Brown, an occupational audiologist with WorkSafeBC, says it’s unclear why some younger workers aren’t taking the proper precautions.
“I don’t know. That’s part of what we need to figure out. Is it cultural within the culture of the industry itself? Is it that young people feel invincible? Or that they’re not being encouraged to wear hearing protection? It’s difficult to say.”
One thing she does know though is how negative the effects can be on one’s health.
“The long-term effect is hearing loss. The consequences are that you get isolated from friends and family by not hearing correctly. So not being able to communicate with family and loved ones.”
Hearing loss can go unnoticed for decades after the initial exposure. Over the past 10 years, there have been over 37,000 accepted claims for nose-induced hearing-loss in B.C.
There’s a financial cost to WorkSafeBC and employers too.
“We spend close to $25 million a year on hearing aids and hearing aid services.”
Brown says they plan to use the information to figure out why this is happening.
“Then we can start to address it. Be it education campaigns, focus groups to try and actually figure out what it is we need to do to get those young workers in construction specifically to be motivated to protect their hearing.”