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Construction Worker

A growing number of Australian workers are suffering industrial deafness because of prolonged exposure to noise at work, according to law firm Slater and Gordon.

Law Clerk Scott Arundell said the firm receives hundreds of inquiries each year from workers who have impaired hearing, as a result of working in noisy environments.

“A range of workers – from those operating heavy machinery to police officers exposed to blaring sirens – are at risk of industrial deafness,” Mr Arundell said.

“Safe Work Australia has found occupational noise accounts for 10 per cent of adult-onset hearing loss. That’s concerning, considering noise-induced hearing loss is preventable.”

The law firm has joined forces with some of its hearing impaired clients as part of Hearing Awareness Week (August 24-30) to warn Australian workers to listen out for the warning signs of hearing loss.

Retired Mount Eliza Engineering Technical Officer Arthur Turnock said his hearing suffered as a result of working next to noisy machinery for many years.

“The machine shop was noisy and one machine in particular was so impossibly noisy that I used to wear ear plugs inside my headphones,” Mr Turnock said. “It was painful.”

The 73-year-old now struggles to hear his grandchildren and others clearly without a hearing aid.

Somerville truck driver Jack Tulk, 59, was exposed to loud noises while delivering heavy steel beams around Melbourne.

“It’s extremely hard for me to have a conversation in a noisy environment now,” Mr Tulk said.

“It’s embarrassing asking people over and over again what they are saying.”

Both men have recently settled legal claims against their employers.

Workers who suffer from hearing loss may be entitled to a range of benefits under WorkCover, including payment for high quality hearing aids, payments for being unable to work and/or a lump sum for permanent hearing impairment.

Anyone who believes they have industrial deafness should seek independent legal advice.

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