Have you heard about ear care and hearing tests at work?

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In our busy working world where health and wellbeing is becoming increasingly important, there is one vital area that often goes unnoticed – hearing.

Many people neglect their ear health until it starts to deteriorate, yet the importance of our ears and hearing plays a vital role in our everyday lives, from communication, stress, productivity, to our overall well-being.

We’re raising the profile of hearing health in all workplaces, across all industries from offices to factories. There’s no hesitation to get an eye test or a dental check, so why should ear health continue to be overlooked?

Integrating ear care into existing employee wellbeing packages is a proactive, progressive step towards maintaining a healthy, loyal and productive workforce.

Why is ear care important

Any changes to hearing are often gradual and not always immediately noticed, yet 1 in 5 UK adults are affected by hearing loss. Having our ears and hearing checked allows us to ensure our ears are physically healthy and we are hearing within the ranges that are expected for our age. 

Regular hearing assessments can detect whether we are experiencing any small changes in our hearing levels. These checks can determine if there is a loss, and if so, if it’s being caused by an underlying health condition such as Diabetes.

Sometimes having our ears and hearing checked can uncover problems that could allow temporary hearing impairments to be reversed such as excessive ear wax build up. This can affect all ages, and can cause discomfort and further complications if left untreated.

Implications of not testing hearing

Regular hearing tests are crucial for early detection and intervention. Untreated hearing loss can potentially have a significant impact on our everyday lives, leading to issues such as social isolation and decreased productivity. In older adults, there is also research showing links between untreated hearing losses, and increased cognitive decline. 

Individuals with untreated hearing loss might find they struggle to communicate effectively, leading to misunderstandings and strained relationships in both personal and professional settings.

Changes to hearing and mental wellbeing

The connection between hearing loss and mental health issues is well documented. According to the RNID and National Library of Medicine, individuals with hearing loss are more susceptible to anxiety and depression. Constantly straining to understand conversations can lead to social withdrawal and feelings of isolation, further exacerbating mental health struggles.

People with hearing difficulties frequently experience social withdrawal, leading to loneliness and a diminished quality of life. Addressing hearing care as early as possible can positively impact mental health and wellbeing, as well as overall health.

A journal published in The Lancet found the presence of untreated hearing loss is also a factor related to later life illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia, the effects of which could be mitigated through earlier detection.

Older people working longer

With employees now working longer as the retirement age increases, we’re more likely to find health conditions arising within the working population. Hearing typically changes as we get older due to wear and tear of our hearing organ (the cochlea), and hearing issues are only expected to become more common within the workplace. This could mean we need to adapt our working environment and home life to help us hear better.

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Whilst hearing loss is often associated with older people, younger employees are also affected by the current lack of awareness surrounding ear care. So many of us – no matter our age – are using personal audio devices such as Airpods and earphones. These can be used for business or personal use, and whilst we don’t consciously have the volume excessively loud, different ears will have different sensitivity levels. Prolonged exposure to loud music or sounds can cause permanent damage to the delicate structures within the ear, leading to irreversible hearing loss. 

Regular hearing checks can allow us to ensure we are not causing irreversible damage to our hearing. Implementing ear care initiatives can help educate younger employees about safe listening practices and encourage preventive measures to protect their hearing health for years to come.

Hearing and the construction sector

The construction industry poses significant risks to ear health due to high noise levels from machinery and power tools. Employers in this sector have a responsibility to implement effective hearing conservation programs, including noise monitoring, engineering controls, and by providing appropriate personal protective equipment.

Focus in this industry shouldn’t however just be aimed at the employees who work in noisy environments, but targeted at all employees to benefit from an improved level of health monitoring.

Workplace Ear Care hearing assessment benefits

Investing in and implementing an ear care service into current employee wellbeing packages offers numerous benefits for both employers and employees alike:

Improved communication and productivity

With healthy hearing, employees can better understand instructions, participate in meetings, and collaborate effectively, leading to increased productivity.

Reduced stress and absenteeism

Struggling to hear can be incredibly stressful. By addressing hearing issues, you can help create a more relaxed and productive work environment, and avoid missed workdays as a result.

Improved employee wellbeing

Regular ear health assessments and hearing tests allow for early detection of potential problems, enabling employees to seek treatment and management strategies.

Cost savings

Early detection of hearing loss can prevent the need for more expensive interventions down the line, benefiting both the employee and the company.

Boosted employee morale

Showing that you care about your employees’ overall health and well-being fosters loyalty, job satisfaction and morale.

Incorporating ear care into an employee wellness program is a cost-effective investment that demonstrably improves employee wellbeing, communication, and productivity. By prioritising your employees’ hearing health, you’re creating a healthier, happier, and more successful workforce, which benefits both the employer and employees.

Author’s profile and mission

I’m Nicola. I’ve been an Audiologist for well over a decade now. I was diagnosed with a severe hearing loss at age 2, and have therefore always worn hearing aids. I studied Audiology at the University of Southampton, and have since worked both in NHS and private practices.  

I founded Workplace Ear Care to help raise awareness of the importance of ear and hearing care. Through my experience I’ve seen how often people are so unsure what to do about any changes to their hearing, and how they will put off a hearing assessment due to not understanding the procedure or what happens. The reality of a hearing test is it’s not invasive, and the more we get used to the process the better our health monitoring becomes, meaning action can be taken as and when necessary. It’s even more convenient when all these checks can be provided on-site during the working day.

I would love for ear care to become as important as eye care and dental care. I want to remove the stigma around checking your ears and hearing, and to allow anybody who needs help with their ears or hearing to receive the assistance they need, and to feel understood and included in both their work and personal lives.

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