What Is Vibration-Induced Hearing Loss?

vibration-induced hearing loss

It’s easy to imagine that strong vibrations have the potential to damage the fine hairs in the inner ear and thus cause hearing loss. When working with machinery like chainsaws or hammer drills, the entire body is subject to strong vibrations, causing vibration-induced hearing loss.

Who’s at Risk of Suffering Vibration-Induced Hearing Loss?

Vibrating tools include chainsaws, hammer drills, along with any other tools causing a vibration or hammering effect. Workers who use this type of equipment for more than one hour per day are at high risk of developing vibration-induced conditions.

Those spending 15 minutes per day using vibrating tools are at a medium risk.

In many countries, employers must follow regulations on the use of vibrating tools outlined by law.

Why Are Health Risks Associated with Vibrating Tools?

Working with vibrating tools can have serious downsides. Apart from vibration-induced hearing loss, conditions like hand-arm-vibration syndrome and vibration-induced white finger (VWF) can also have devastating effects.

Vibration-Induced Hearing Loss – Damage to the Inner Ear

Because the effects of vibration hadn’t been examined in detail before, researchers conducted an animal study to find out if using vibrating tools damages the cochlea (inner ear).

The researchers found that the animals exposed to vibration suffered damage to the fine hair in the inner ear. In conclusion, they pointed at the potential long-term effects of whole-body vibration on the inner ear, linking them with damage to the inner ear.

Noise and Vibration

Most vibrating tools also produce excess noise. When studying the combined effects, researchers found that people suffering from vibration-induced white-finger had more severe hearing difficulties than those without VWF.

Final Thoughts

Experts now know that operating vibrating tools comes with serious risk, vibration-induce hearing loss included.

In many places, legislation exists to protect workers and employers must take the necessary precautions.