27 February 2013

Effective hearing protection for Swedish soldiers

Intelligent hearing protectors have reduced hearing injuries among Swedish soldiers dramatically. Today, 90% fewer noise-related injuries are reported than in 1999.
Effective hearing protection for Swedish soldiers

Many soldiers suffer from permanent hearing injuries and hearing loss as a result of being exposed to high levels of noise during their military training.

Of the 16,200 soldiers who enlisted in the Swedish Armed Forces in 2002, hearing-related injuries were third highest on the list of health problems suffered, while of the 2,400 Swedes who were sent home during their military service, 14% of these instances were because of hearing loss.

The soldiers' training often takes place in buildings, in which noise levels are greatly increased because the noise is reflected off of both the walls and ceiling.

But with the introduction of “intelligent” hearing protectors, the Swedish Armed Forces set a goal to reduce noise-related injuries by 25% between 2006-2011. That goal was fulfilled.

”Intelligent” hearing protectors

Human hearing can cope with a noise level of up to 80dB for a longer period of time before it becomes damaged. The Swedish Armed Forces' preferred firearm is the AK5, a weapon which has a noise level of around 165dB. Enough to damage hearing.

The Swedish Armed Forces have therefore invested in “intelligent” hearing protectors since 1999 for all of their conscripts and officers and purchased hearing protectors with improved noise suppression in 2006.

Intelligent hearing protectors amplify weaker sounds, while two microphones make it possible to localise where the sounds are coming from. At the same time, normal speech is allowed through while loud noises such as gunfire and explosions are blocked.

90% fewer injuries

Since 1999, the number of reported noise-related injuries for Swedish conscripts has fallen by 90% and the number of reported noise-related injuries per 100,000 service days has fallen from 18 to five, which means that the number of payouts by the state in compensation has also fallen.

Source: Auris, nr. 6 oktober 2012

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