TUC calls for a million free hearing tests

The
TUC wants a million workers to get free hearing tests.

The
union has joined forces with the RNID (Royal National Institute for Deaf
People) and the European Federation of the Hard of Hearing (EFHOH) to call on
members of the European Parliament and governments to ensure the best hearing
protection is provided to workers under the Noise at Work Directive, being
discussed in Strasburg today.

The
organisations have written to MEPs, engaged in last minute negotiations with
governments over the Directive, saying it is vital they ensure that hearing
tests are extended to the million workers in Britain exposed to potentially
damaging levels of noise. This would encourage the early detection of hearing
problems and the prevention of profound hearing loss.

The
organisations also want MEPs to defeat a proposed amendment to exclude the
leisure industry from the directive for five years, that would leave workers
vulnerable to hearing damage in one of the UK’s fastest-growing industries.
Workers in the leisure industry have the same right to protection as those in
other industries, such as manufacturing, where high levels of noise are already
accepted as damaging.

A
directive is due to become law across the EU later in the summer.

The
TUC said free hearing tests at work would help identify problems earlier and
improve people’s access to help with hearing loss. In Britain, this would
increase the number of people covered by hearing tests from 273,000 to
1,097,000.

TUC
general secretary, John Monks, said: "People who work in noisy jobs need
to look after their ears, and hearing tests can identify problems early, while
there is still time to prevent profound hearing loss. If more people had
hearing tests, less people would lose their hearing in later life.

"And
it can’t be right that manufacturing has to cut the noise levels and protect
its workers’ health while pubs and clubs can carry on damaging the hearing of
bar staff and musicians alike. No one is trying to stop people hearing loud
music, but lots of musicians are suffering deafness for their art, or having to
retire early, and we do want that to stop."

www.tuc.org.uk

By Quentin Reade

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