Preventing noise-induced hearing loss - Projects and educational resources
This page lists educational resources which deal with the prevention of noise inducing hearing loss.
Current research projects
Australian Workplace Exposure Survey (AWES) – Hearing Project 2014-2017
Curtin University, WA, University of WA, University of Queensland, National Acoustic Laboratories, NSW
This team has been developing and testing a new epidemiological tool to help examine workplace exposures that contribute to occupational hearing loss (www.occideas.org). In April 2016, they undertook a large national telephone survey to ask workers about their occupations and tasks. The system will then determine how many Australian workers are exposed to harmful levels of noise, hand-arm vibration and ototoxic chemicals. It will then use this data to estimate the future burden of work-related hearing loss and identify the industry sectors that contribute most. It will also estimate how changes in the use of hazard controls could alter the burden and the costs. A report on the project is expected in late 2017.
Acute auditory effects associated with solvent and jet fuel exposure
University of Queensland, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
This study is investigating the acute auditory effects associated with solvent and jet fuel exposure. In addition, it aims to determine a test battery that can be used for monitoring hearing in solvent-exposed workers. Results are expected by the end of 2017.
National occupational hazard and risk management surveillance (NOHARMS)
Safe Work Australia is investigating exposures to hazards associated with priority work disorders within priority industries using small, targeted studies for specific industry sub-sectors and hazards. NOHARMS projects include exposure measurements where possible, and workers and managers are asked about risk management practices including the provision and use of controls. The first NOHARMS project, carried out by Curtin University, investigated exposures to noise, dust, vibration and chemicals on small mixed grain and livestock farms in Western Australia.
HEARsmart Music Venue Study
HEARing Cooperative Research Centre, VIC
This pilot project is working with three Victorian live music venues to develop practical and cost-effective solutions to help reduce noise exposure for musicians, patrons and venue staff while maintaining or even improving the fidelity of the music being played.
Early Indicators of Noise Injury
National Acoustic Laboratories, NSW
The aims of this project are to determine: i) the relationship between levels of noise exposure and auditory processing difficulties; ii) the influence of musical training in preventing or reducing these difficulties; iii) through electrophysiological techniques, a neurological model of the effects of noise exposure and musical training on auditory processing, and iv) the subjective experiences of those who have trouble hearing in noise.
Research into auditory system mechanisms, tinnitus and hearing in noise
The University of Western Australia, School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology and Macquarie University
Evaluation of a hypothesised dose-response relationship of exposure to cigarette smoke, noise and atmospheric contaminants on hearing loss of mine employees.
This research project, just commencing, will explore individual and combined contributions of cigarette smoking, noise and atmospheric contaminants to the development of occupational hearing loss in a retrospective mining cohort, using health surveillance data collected in WA between 1996 and 2013.
- Contact: Lindy Nield: Lindy.Nield@health.wa.gov.au
Is there a synergistic ototoxic effect of noise and welding fume?
Edith Cowan University, WA. School of Medical & Health Sciences
The Occupational Health team is investigating the relationship between noise exposure and welding fumes to determine if welding fumes could be implicated as an ototoxic agent.
Sound practice project
The University of Sydney, NSW
This is an ongoing project on OHS issues in orchestras, including NIHL. It involves the eight main state and national orchestras.
- Contact audiologist/researcher: Ian O’Brien: firstname.lastname@example.org
Effects of noise on performance in aircraft cabins
The University of New South Wales
This is an ongoing project originating from concerns about the effects of noise on safety-critical tasks undertaken by those working within an aircraft. The studies have investigated the effects of noise on various cognitive tasks and have considered the effects on native vs non-native speakers. The noise levels for these investigations have been in the range between what is considered acceptable for an office and the workplace noise limit. The noise used has been a wideband noise similar to that within an aircraft cabin during flight. Recent studies have included babble noise, i.e. non meaningful speech, at the same level.
Contact Dr Brett Molesworth: email@example.com
Past research projects
Active noise control in workplaces
The University of Western Australia, School of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering.
Successful active noise control projects to attenuate low-frequency noise have been carried out in the cabins of a mining truck and a locomotive, in the wheelhouse of a high-speed patrol boat, near a cooling fan in an educational building and to reduce noise emissions from a shoulder-pack vacuum cleaner.
Shhh - Hearing in a farming environment
Deakin University, VIC, Australian National University, ACT, National Acoustic Laboratories
Two out of three farmers are affected by hearing loss and they are exposed to many different sources of noise on farms. This project tested the hypothesis that participating in early intervention hearing services focused towards farming families will contribute to (a) significant reduction in the impact of hearing loss on farmers and (b) educate and empower farmers on their capacity to reduce their noise exposure. This project has resulted in several publications and in hearing health being embedded in the Sustainable Farm Families program – part of the National Centre for Farmer Health.
- Contact A/Prof. Susan Brumby: firstname.lastname@example.org
Noise Injury Prevention Strategy for the Australian Farming Community
AgHealth Australia – University of Sydney, NSW, Farmsafe Australia
A number of research reports and articles have been produced by AgHealth contributing to action on this issue, along with facts and pamphlets for farmers and shooters.
Occupational noise-induced hearing loss in Australia: Overcoming barriers to effective noise control and hearing loss prevention
Know Your Noise website
National Acoustic Laboratories, NSW
Based on research previously carried out by NAL, this website provides accurate and meaningful information about noise exposure and its impact on hearing health. You can find out whether your levels of noise exposure (at work and play) are putting you at risk of hearing damage, and you can take an on-line hearing test to see how well you hear in a noisy background. The comparative data on the site is based on results from over 8,000 people who participated in NAL’s large online survey in 2012. This first campaign under the HEARsmart banner was launched in 2014: and was driven by the distribution of postcards Australia-wide. There was also a dedicated social media campaign through facebook and twitter @HEARsmart_. The story was also picked up by Channel 9 TV news reaching a huge audience across Australia.
‘Profiles/leisure noise’ project and the NOISE database
National Acoustic Laboratories, NSW
The aim of this project was to develop measurement tool(s) capable of estimating the life-time noise exposure profile typical of the community; and of specific individuals typical of sub-groups of the community. The NOISE database brings together a wide range of leisure noise measurements for researchers and others to explore. It aims to identify which leisure activities and events pose a risk to hearing health and to help estimate individuals' noise exposures.
National Acoustic Laboratories, NSW
This project developed an effective programme for hearing loss prevention and hearing health awareness. The project aims to reduce the prevalence of NIHL in young people by promoting awareness of the dangers of excessive sound exposure and educating primary school students on ways to minimise hazards to hearing health. It has been developed especially for teachers, by a teacher, has been tested in primary schools, and is designed to work with current teaching requirements.
Using Auditory simulations to enable prevention of noise exposure in school-age children and young adults
Edith Cowan University, WA
Report published in 2010 with Teachers’ and Students’ Notes for the Integrated Science Curriculum Years 11 and 12
‘Sonic Silence’ an interactive science exhibit
Edith Cowan University, WA and Scitech, WA
Exhibit designed to look like an oversized set of headphones, the two listening booths giving people a chance to experience what it is like to have noise-induced hearing loss and learn about preventative measures. It was installed in 2012 and remains a popular exhibit.
‘Cheers for Ears’ School Program
Ear Science Institute Australia, WA
Targeted at 8 - 12 year old students this program involves a 1-hour interactive education session delivered in the classroom by ESIA’s health promotion coordinator, using models, simulation of hearing loss, and group exercises. It has also developed a free Android App to monitor personal music player listening levels and a computer game about the dangers of prolonged exposure to noise.
- More information - The ESIA also has a ‘Hearing Knowledge Centre’ plus on-line videos.
‘Hear2day’ Noise Awareness Program
Grow Smart Foundation, WA
A noise awareness program targeted at 10-11 year olds to demonstrate effects of playing personal music players at dangerously high volumes over time. The fun, interactive multimedia program message is designed to be delivered through a variety of modes, from school classroom presentations to public community events.
Managing Noise in the 21st Century - Newspaper Liftout
The West Australian/AIOH
Hearing Awareness Week is an annual event held in August. Every year between 2011 and 2014 “Managing Noise in the 21st Century” was published as a special 16-page liftout in The West Australian newspaper.
Control Guide – Management of Noise at Work (Safe Work Australia)
Although published in 1991 this Guide still has much useful information.
Current Regulatory Projects
Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the priority disorders under the National Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022.
Three states currently have inspection projects focusing on noise.
WorkSafe in Western Australia
WorkSafe in Western Australia is conducting an inspection project during 2015/17 in manufacturing workplaces. One of the main objectives of the proactive program is to raise awareness of noise hazards and how these may be assessed and subsequently controlled. During this project whenever inspectors visit a manufacturing workplace for any reason they will also run through a noise control and training checklist and if identified as a potential issue, take the necessary enforcement action.
WorkSafe Victoria has a NIHL information hub
WorkSafe Victoria has a NIHL information hub on its website. This includes: what noise is; the scientific basis on how hearing loss occurs; practical and easy to understand information on identifying noise in the workplace; and information on higher order noise controls beyond hearing protectors.
WorkSafe's inspectorate will be out in manufacturing industries to assess compliance in workplaces around the state. Later WorkSafe will focus on NIHL in the construction industry.
- Contact Program Manager, Ryan Green: email@example.com
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland
International projects on on-line educational resources in relation to preventing noise-induced hearing loss
Safe in Sound Awards (by USA NIOSH /NHCA)
The objectives of these awards are to recognize organizations that document measurable achievements in hearing loss prevention programs, and to obtain and disseminate information on their real world successes.
Tax Incentive Scheme (by Singapore Ministry of Manpower)
Use of Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) Testing in workplaces (by UK Health and Safety Laboratory)
This project is investigating the measurability and reliability of OAE testing in different test environments and the potential for developing a procedure for the inclusion of OAE testing in HCPs, including evaluation of the practicability of training occupational health providers to undertake OAE testing.
- Contact: Clare.Forshaw@hsl.gsi.gov.uk
- Acoustical design for open plan offices (from National Research Council Canada) Good information even though now archived!
- Best practice noise control at source (from UK Industrial Noise and Vibration Centre)
- Buy-Quiet Purchasing Program (from USA NASA)
- HearForever Educational Tools (from Honeywell/Howard Leight)
- Hearing Conservation and Hearing Protector Information (from E-A-R/3M) Much information about hearing conservation and hearing protectors from USA expert Elliott Berger; including database of noise levels of 1700 noise sources:
- Noise at Work Solutions (from USA NIOSH) Includes database of power tool noise levels, buy quiet initiative, noise meter and training booklets for construction trades.
- Noise at Work (from UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE)) Includes Hearing Video, hearing loss simulator, online hearing check, noise exposure calculator and noise control case studies. Also a research report on “Influencing dutyholders’ behaviour regarding the management of noise risks”
- Noise Control - A Guide for workers and employers (from USA OSHA but based on original Swedish booklet) Gives clear examples of the different sources of noise and the principles for controlling them.
- On-line hearing impairment and noise exposure calculators (from German Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). Calculate expected hearing loss due to years of exposure to noise and ageing according to the model given in International Standard ISO 1999. And noise exposure due to work and leisure sources.
- Sound Advice (from UK HSE) A website giving practical advice for control of noise at work in the music entertainment industries.
- Videos (from WorkSafeBC in Canada) Put “The Hearing Video” and “Deaf to the Danger” in search box
- World-wide Noise Control Product Catalogue (from BAUA in Germany). Includes sound absorbing products, noise control products and low-noise tools.
More for the general public
- Action on Hearing Loss (from UK – formerly RNID) An educational and campaign site to encourage people to look after their hearing, including listening to music responsibly.
- Dangerous Decibels (from Oregon USA) Includes a virtual exhibition – a collection of games, demonstrations and activities that will answer three important questions: What are the sources of dangerous sounds? What are the effects of listening to dangerous sounds? How do I protect myself from dangerous sounds?
- Hear the World An international initiative to educate the public on the importance of hearing.
- Make Listening Safe Campaign (from the World Health Organization) Launched on 3 March 2015 on World Ear Care Day. Aimed at teenagers and young people, it includes multilingual posters, other educational materials and a report on effects of recreational noise exposure with many useful references.
- Personal Music Players & Hearing (from the European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks) For a good explanations of the hearing process and effects of loud noise see report. And for a choice of 3 levels of detail:
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