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Hearing – Why is it important?

Hearing is a critical sense required to communicate, keep awareness of our surroundings, and hear safety alarms and so on. If our hearing becomes damaged we may be less able to do our jobs and put others at risk. Unfortunately if personnel sustain noise induced hearing loss or tinnitus they may be medically downgraded or even discharged in severe cases.

How is hearing damaged?

Noise Induced Hearing Loss and tinnitus (the perception of ringing or other sounds in the ear) are two of the most common occupational injuries and are caused by: 

  • A single extremely loud event.
  • The progressive effect of repeated exposure to noise over time.
  • Military personnel are at risk of hearing damage because our business involves many sources of loud noise.
  • Impulse noises such as weapon fire and explosives.
  • Steady state or ‘continuous noise’ such as machinery, armoured vehicles and helicopters.
  • Music such as marching bands, bugles, pipes and drums.

There are also many off-duty sources of noise we may be exposed to, such as listening to personal music players, using power tools, attending music concerts and events like motor sport racing where loud noise is present

 How to Protect Your Hearing

There are some basic steps you can take to protect your hearing.

  • Be noise aware - If you have to shout over a noise to talk to someone 2m away, it is loud enough to be damaging to your hearing.
  • Avoid the noise - If you can avoid being near loud noise, or turn it off! 
  • Move further away - The more distance you put between yourself and the noise the less damage it can cause
  • Turn down the volume - If you can, simply turning down the volume will make a big difference to your ears! Avoid using loud music to drown out other background noise! Using sound cancelling ear or head phones can really help. 
  • Reduce time exposed - The longer you listen to a loud noise the more damage it can do, so keep track of time. Limit how long you listen to loud music and try to take breaks away from noisy areas to give your ears a break! 
  • Protect your ears - Using hearing protection for noisy activities is really important and in many cases for military activities is required by law. Make sure you know which hearing protection to use and when.

The Individual Guide to Hearing Protection will provide you with more information in order for you to reduce your personal risk both on and off duty.

In-Service Hearing Protection System

There are a number of different In-Service hearing protection systems that are designed to protect the user.  At a glance you can see the different hearing protection systems and the environments or situations when different equipment is to be worn.  It is the users responsibility to ensure they have the right equipment for the environment that they are operating.

We are all at risk from the damaging effects of loud noise – regardless of how tough you are!