Oil and gas workers most likely to suffer hearing loss: WorkSafeBC

Workers in British Columbia's upstream oil and gas, drilling and pipeline construction industries are more likely to suffer hearing loss than other industries, according to 2014 hearing tests results.
More than one-third of workers in the oil and gas industry overall showed signs of noise-related hearing loss; specifically, more than 36 per cent of workers in the oil and gas drilling sub-sector showed signs of noise-induced hearing loss.

“This is a concern. The hearing test results in oil and gas for noise-related hearing loss are more than double compared to other industries with hazardous noise levels,” said Budd Phillips, regional prevention manager, Fort St. John, WorkSafeBC. “Employers in the oil and gas industry need to ensure the health and safety of their workers and prevent noise-related hearing loss injuries.”

According to the B.C. Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, employers are required to provide hearing loss prevention programs, monitoring of noise levels, and annual hearing tests for workers exposed to hazardous noise. WorkSafeBC’s data indicate only 15 per cent of workers in oil and gas and pipeline construction in B.C. were tested in 2014.

“This is a call to action for employers in hazardous noise industries to ensure their workers have access to hearing loss prevention programs and annual testing, as well as vigilant monitoring to determine where and when the highest levels of noise exposure are occurring and take appropriate engineering control measures to reduce exposures,” said Phillips.

WorkSafeBC data also found hearing protection used in the oil and gas industry is in some cases insufficient and needs to be re-evaluated by employers. It also indicated that 27 per cent of young workers working in the oil and gas field servicing sub-sector report that they do not wear hearing protection devices.