March 3rd marked World Hearing Day, a day to raise awareness around hearing health issues. According to a recent press release from Amplifon UK, unaddressed hearing issues costs the UK £18.8 billion each year and a worldwide cost of £640.7 billion. That’s the same amount as the gross domestic product of a country such as the Netherlands or the combined health expenditure of Brazil and China.
It is important to monitor hearing health in the workforce as it can increase the risk of isolation and depression which, in people who do not hear well, is twice as high than in those who have no hearing difficulties. Unaddressed hearing loss is also associated with an increased probability of having some cognitive decline, which can be up to five times higher in cases of profound hearing loss . Action is needed also at work: estimates, in fact, point out that people with hearing difficulties are twice as likely to be unemployed than people who hear well.
“Every year 640.7 billion pounds are spent worldwide due to unaddressed hearing loss, over £18.8 billion pounds in the UK alone. It is an enormous amount of wasted resources, which is quite impressive, but not surprising. In fact, hearing well – says Barry Downes, Professional Services Manager – plays a vital role throughout people’s entire life and ignoring any hearing loss can have a great social, and therefore, economic impact. For instance, hearing difficulties make it hard to communicate and can increase isolation and depression, even leading to greater use of antidepressant drugs. Moreover, the effects of hearing loss at school or at work should not be underestimated due to its negative influence on performance which may even lead to early retirement in some cases. In addition to that, hearing difficulties can accelerate, mainly in older people, the onset of cognitive decline and increase the risk of falling”.
There is plenty that employers can be doing to make sure their workforce’s needs are catered for, starting with Amplifon’s checklist.
Little checklist for hearing health
Promoted by Amplifon with the advice of Barry Downes, Professional Services Manager, her are 5 actions to reduce the impact of unaddressed hearing loss.
1) Hearing screening for all adults over 40 years of age should become routine to identify any hearing loss at its very beginning.
2) Spreading information and raising awareness on hearing health in schools in order to educate children to protect their hearing.
3) Testing hearing ability at least once a year.
4) Taking action with the appropriate hearing solution, having the solution customised for all types and degrees of hearing loss.
5) Promote the importance of a quality service and multidisciplinary approach to hearing loss as it is associated with other health issues such as depression, diabetes, cognitive decline and risk of falling.
Workplace specific measures include…
- Increased awareness and education of hearing health risks and the signs to look for
- Free hearing checks for all staff (in particular the older workforce or those exposed to noise)
- Provision of protective equipment for those working in noisy environments
- Monitoring individual workers for signs of hearing deterioration, depression or isolation that may be affecting their performance
For further information around hearing health, head to Amplifon’s website: http://www.amplifon.com/web/uk/-/world-hearing-day-2017