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Occupational hearing loss represents a very significant social and economic burden for Australia. Nationally, an estimated 1 million employees in Australia may be potentially exposed to hazardous levels of noise at work.
Noise exposure is the commonest preventable cause of occupational hearing loss. While entirely preventable, once acquired it is irreversible. Sound and pressure was the stated cause of over 96% of workers’ compensation claims for hearing loss in 2001/02.
In considering the workers’ compensation claim information it is noted that the criteria for making industrial deafness claims varies between jurisdictions and that not all employees are eligible to make compensation claims – thus compensation statistics do no fully reflect the true incidence and costs of industrial deafness.
Studies further establishing the linkages between job activities, exposure and hearing loss will build up a national picture on the extent of occupational noise induced hearing loss. Synthesising this information would provide a noise and hearing loss profile leading to a better understanding of the noise induced hearing loss in Australia.