Occupational hearing loss cases on the rise

Updated: 2013-03-01 22:21

By He Na (chinadaily.com.cn)

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Reported cases of occupational hearing loss in China increased sharply in recent years and experts warned that more measures should be taken to protect workers' hearing, or else the consequences will be disastrous.

"Many workers who are exposed to hazardous noise levels for a long time do not know that it will lead to permanent hearing loss. And once the hearing is impaired, it is hard to recover. Prevention is more important than treatment in protecting workers' hearing," said Zhang Baoming, director of the China Occupational Safety and Health Association during the Workplace Noise Hazards and Hearing Protection Forum that was held in Beijing on Friday.

The forum is co-sponsored by COSHA and the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Corp (China), known as 3M China.

More than 100 experts in occupational-disease prevention and research, owners of manufacturing companies, and 3M representatives attended the conference.

Data released by the Ministry of Health showed that the cases of occupational hearing loss increased by 78 percent from 2010 to 2012.

Occupational hearing loss has become one of the most common work-related injuries in China. About 10 million Chinese workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work for a long time.

"Progress and improvement in noise control and hearing protection have been made in recent years by the government, especially since the establishment of Ear-care Day, which falls on March 3 every year since 2000. But still more work needs to be done involving extensive industries," said Ding Hui, president of the Beijing Academy of Science and Technology.

He recommended removing hazardous noise levels from the workplace whenever possible and using hearing protectors in those situations where dangerous noise exposure levels have not yet been controlled or eliminated.

The system for preventing and compensating hearing loss should also be improved, he added.