While a common description of tinnitus is a 'ringing in the ears', the sufferer can hear a variety of noises that have no external source. These include buzzing, whistling, or sounds like music or singing.
It's estimated that one million employees in the UK are at risk of developing industrial deafness, including tinnitus. This occurs due to damage to the inner ear, which includes the auditory nerve and the cochlea (a coiled, spiral tube).
This condition varies in severity, from mildly irritating to debilitating, and can continue constantly or occasionally throughout a person's life. Many people with tinnitus are unable to enjoy a quiet environment, which can be distressing. Tinnitus makes it difficult to go to sleep or to concentrate on a task.
The symptoms are most often noticeable in quiet surroundings and can be masked by neutral sounds. Simple solutions such as opening a window or using a fan can help. Recordings of 'white noise', such as rain or running water, are effective and freely available online. It is far better, though, to install measures that prevent tinnitus in the first place.
For more information on tinnitus and the noise controls needed to protect workers' health, download our full white paper.
Due to the level of noise experienced at construction sites, especially if the required control measures are not in place, many workers are at risk of developing tinnitus.