25% of the U.K. workforce has an increased risk of premature hearing loss caused by prolonged use of headphones at work, a study suggests.
Every day, hundreds of thousands of employees - such as call centre workers or emergency services - use headphones as part of their daily work to answer or make calls.
The use of headphones at work, however, can be dangerous and has been discovered to put a quarter of the U.K. workforce at risk of noise-induced hearing loss, according to a study.
Based on a survey of 2,000 workers in the U.K., the researchers found that the workers on average listened to 110 minutes of audio in the workplace and an additional 92 minutes in leisure time. In total, an estimated 7.6 million people in the U.K. are exposed to 3.5 hours of sound each day. Depending on how loudly workers listen to their headphones, it can damage their hearing.
As the use of headphones increases, employers are becoming more and more responsible for ensuring the hearing of their staff is not damaged by their work.
Need for awareness
The survey also found that the respondents lacked knowledge of their rights. Despite regulations, 79% of the respondents were unaware that their employer is legally required to protect them from workplace noise, despite 48% being concerned about loss of hearing.
According to Ralph Holme, Head of biomedical research at Action on Hearing Loss in the U.K, it is of the utmost importance that employers take responsibility for noise levels at work and put practical steps into action to secure the hearing of their employees.
Hearing loss is a health issue that can affect lives in many ways, affecting relationships with friends and family as well as careers.
The survey was conducted by an audio technology company.
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