Officials are WorkSafeBC are sounding the alarm about an increase in hearing loss among oil-and-gas drilling workers.
The number of employees showing signs of noise-induced hearing loss has risen from 33 per cent to 45 per cent between 2012 and 2017, according to hearing test data collected by employers, WorkSafeBC said in a news released on Monday. Two-thirds of those workers were under the age of 35.
That compares to 13 per cent of workers in all other noise industry showing signs of such hearing loss last year.
On the other hand, the number of employees who reported hearing hearing protection has also climbed, from 94 to 98 per cent, with most people relying on foam earplugs.
“There are a number of reasons why workers may be diagnosed with noise-induced hearing loss even though they are wearing some form of hearing protection,” said WorkSafeBC occupational audiologist Sasha Brown in the release.
“The earplugs or earmuffs might be the wrong size, inserted or worn incorrectly, not worn for long enough, or they may not be providing enough protection for the duration and intensity of noise exposure.”
The agency released a new safety bulletin on Monday as well, outlining measures employers can take to prevented noise-induced hearing loss, including making sure staff wear hearing protection that fits and that they understand how to wear it correctly.
Employers are required to provide hearing-loss prevention programs, monitor noise levels and conduct annual hearing tests for workers exposed to hazardous noise levels, defined as 85 decibels in the A scale for eight hours. An alarm clock or very busy street comes is at around 85 decibels.
Since 2006, more than 41,000 claims have been accepted in B.C. for noise-induced hearing loss.