VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Job-related hearing loss in British Columbia’s bars and restaurants is now serious enough to warrant a safety bulletin.
The caution from WorkSafeBC is linked to more than 3,000 disability claims in recent years.
Research has shown unprotected workers are suffering permanent hearing loss after regularly being exposed to noise levels higher than 85 decibels.
WorkSafeBC’s Director of Prevention Services, Dan Strand, says most employers aren’t aware of the problem.
“If you are having to raise your voice to a customer client who is about one metre away, there’s a possibility in that environment that you are above the regulatory limits, if you will, for noise, so to take necessary precautions to examine that more fully and try to do what you can to control it,” he says.
Hearing loss has been linked to more than 3,300 overall disability claims between 2008 and 2017 and Strand points out more than 2,000 related claims are filed every year in the province.
“Industries such as forestry, construction is where this is perennially an issue,” he says. “We just think that in the service sector, it’s under-represented as a risk in that environment.”
He adds bartenders and other servers are wrong to believe the use of hearing protection will make it difficult to communicate with customers because when noise levels exceed safe limits, those safeguards can actually improve your ability to hear.
“You can get hearing protection specific to musicians, so you can hear all the different tones and the sounds, but it reduces overall noise level.”
Strand tells NEWS 1130 they’re not asking bar owners and other employers to lower loud music, but servers should have access to noise-reduction support.