Aster Clinic ENT doctor warns of construction site noise risks

Aster Clinic ENT doctor warns of construction site noise risks
Site noise is a major occupational hazard [representational image].
Published: 10 April 2019 - 1 p.m.
By: Jack Ball

Construction site labourers are largely unaware of the risks of high noise levels, risking severe hearing difficulties – especially if adequate protection tools are not provided – a medical expert from the UAE's Aster Clinic healthcare group warned, commenting on worker welfare.

“Many workers here, in my experience, are not aware [of the dangers of occupational noise],” Dr Midhuna Prathap, a specialist ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon at Abu Hail’s Aster Clinic, told Construction Week.

“It’s very important for employers to train their employees on how occupational noise can damage their ears. It is a very big problem that shouldn’t be neglected.”

Construction site workers, oil and gas employees, and those working in the transport and shipping sector are some groups most at risk, she explained.

“[Workers] tend to neglect the problem because they don’t believe noise exposure could be causing them hearing problems,” Prathap added.

“They tend to think that problems stem from another cause, say from a genetic link.”

READ: Health and safety tent set up for Dubai construction workers

The problem is not exclusive to the GCC, however, as the doctor explained.

“Chronic exposure to occupational noise is a problem everywhere,” Prathap said. “It isn’t region-specific. It is the most common, prevalent, permanent – yet preventable – occupational injury in the world.”

The UAE Occupational Health and Safety Management System sets a maximum exposure level to an average of 85 decibels over an eight-hour period.

With this in mind, Prathap said it is vital that “managers regulate the noise level of workplaces to ensure the noise levels are within the legal limit.”

She added: “There are different qualities of hearing defense that can be provided – good quality hearing protection can filter out 70-80% of all noise. Good quality ear protection should be provided to all employees – I believe this is incredibly important.”

Construction site managers, in her opinion, should ensure all loud machinery is “installed and fitted with proper silencers”, monitoring noise levels at regular intervals too.

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