All types of people… all ages… all the time…
Today we live in increasingly noisy environments due to television, headphones, transport, machines at work, leisure activities, etc. Health specialists confirm that all this regular noise exposure is linked to a rise in the early onset of noise-related conditions (tinnitus, deafness, etc.). This hazard affects people young and old, at work as well as at home. Noise is part of our daily lives and yet we hardly notice it anymore!
Our ears… a fragile mechanism…
Our ability to hear rests on a fragile mechanism that is easily damaged, often irreparably. At the centre of the ear are cells (hair cells) that transfer information to our brain. These cells normally deteriorate over time, but do so more quickly under the effect of intense and/or repeated noise until they no longer work. The cells do not regenerate; the effects are irreversible. There is currently no medical treatment for this ailment. As with all other senses, hearing loss negatively impacts your social and professional life.
CERN’s population, representative of society...
The WHO (World Health Organisation) estimates that 16% of the world’s population suffers from hearing problems. In July 2015, CERN’s Medical Service carried out a screening programme for hearing difficulties. Out of 68 people tested, 13 had an abnormal audiogram: 19%! Hearing loss affected all age groups: 18-30 year olds as well as the over-40s.
23% of people tested were exposed to high noise levels as part of their work. 43% of people tested confirmed that they were exposed to noise in their private lives, in particular when playing or listening to music (some of them also suffered noise exposure at work).
However, about a third of participants thought they were not particularly exposed to noise!
Prevention… simple actions
On a daily basis, in your private life and at work, limiting your exposure to intense and/or repeated noise from a young age would seem to be the best approach… but it’s not always easy.
On this ‘hearing’ day, CERN offers you the opportunity:
- to test your knowledge with a quiz (in the form of place mats in the restaurants and flyers in the cafeterias);
- to test your hearing (audiogram) by going to the CERN infirmary*;
- to test the noise levels in your workplace or at your workstation; for these or more specific activities contact the HSE specialists (HSEemail@example.com)*;
- to take a training course on noise risk, available in the CERN training catalogue (http://cta.cern.ch)*.
Finally, from now onwards, (even if you “haven’t heard”), try to take regular daily breaks away from noise.
*Service available all year round.