IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail


Hearing Aid Use in Noisy Workplaces

Hearing Aid Use in Noisy Workplaces

Wearing hearing aids should only be considered as a last resort for a person working in a noisy environment. This is at least the conclusion of a study funded by the IRSST, which recommends among other things to consider noise reduction first.

Noise is a constant presence in the workplace, and as a result, many workers live with occupational hearing loss. Hearing loss may be also of non-occupational origin, while an aging workforce is at greater risk of suffering from hearing loss. 

Hearing loss can compromise the effective realization of tasks and the safety of workers and others when it is accompanied by difficulties in perceiving audible signals, including speech, in noisy surroundings, and the ability to identify where sounds are coming from.

Few scientific studies have dealt with the issue of wearing hearing aids in noisy workplaces. We therefore know very little about the extent of their use in the workplace and the associated risks and benefits.

This study explored the frequency of hearing aid use in noisy workplaces; examined the risk of aggravating hearing loss in workers who wear hearing aids in noisy workplaces; determined whether hearing aids can be used to assist hearing and communication needs without aggravating hearing loss or compromising safety. It also established whether other amplification and protection technologies (e.g., sound restoration hearing protection devices) could help improve hearing performance at work, or at least not make it worse.