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Excessive noise threatens workers' health

Update: January, 14/2009 - 00:00

Excessive noise threatens workers’ health

(15-01-2009)

Workers drill in a coal mine at a depth of 150 metres. After suffering long exposure to excessive noise levels, workers are at risk of going deaf. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Dan

HA NOI — A shocking report has revealed that excessive noise levels at factories is causing total deafness and other hearing problems among workers.

A survey by Thua Thien-Hue central province’s Preventive Medicine Centre revealed that among 50 workers randomly tested at a car factory - an alarming 38 suffered from reduced hearing.

Eighteen were totally deaf - 36 per cent of the survey’s total population.

Nguyen Thi Toan, head of occupational disease diagnosis office under the Institute for Labour Medicine and Environmental Hygiene, said that 38 out of 50 was far too high and proved that noise levels in production workshops was also far too high above the recommended level.

She said the noise measured at a car assembly and maintenance factory was between 93 and 110dBA, going far above the allowable level of 85dBA .

The Ministry of Health’s Preventive Medicine and Environmental Department reported late last year that 26,300 Vietnamese workers were affected by occupational diseases.

Deafness is the second greatest occupational disease, accounting for 10 per cent of the total diseases.

According to Toan’s national-level investigations, between 14 and 18 per cent of all labourers in the country have hearing difficulties.

The most at-risk groups are drillers, welders, ship-building workers and rolling-mill operators, she said.

Measures

Hearing problems can cause dizziness, headaches, stress, hypertension and decreased vision, according to health experts.

To reduce hearing problems, the following measure can be taken, Toan said: the use of specialised ear buttons; the reduction of noise from machines; and the introduction of soundproof equipment at workshops.

However, only 18 in 25 workers at noisy factories wear ear buttons.

At a recent conference to review 2008’s occupational disease prevention, an official from Cao Bang northern province’s preventive medicine centre said that poor health and safety in factories and the large numbers of unskilled staff working there were the two major problems.

Toan said that financial difficulties were impeding the introduction of safety measures in factories.

"The reality is that most noisy factories are small companies," she said. — VNS

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