05 November 2010

Eh? What was that?

Image by Yaron Jeroen van Oostrom

Today is not a good day in Rosaland.

The Old Git has always given freely of his professional expertise to help me in my work. He is a gift to the consultant who works in a profession allied to the building trade: A builder willing to answer any technical question, no matter how stupid, who will take you to sites to show you installations and develop your technical expertise before you are let loose on the paying public, and who will tell you all the little sneaky cost-cutting tricks builders get up to that might explain the problem you are trying to troubleshoot for someone.

When he never heard the oven timer going at home, I started wondering why. When he couldn't hear the background jungle sounds I was playing on my internet radio to keep me company while I wrote, I got worried. The Old Git is not really that old; only 47. It was time to pay him back for everything he has done for me professionally.

I hauled him into my audiometry lab for a hearing test this morning, and established that he has noise induced hearing loss.

This is a very unpleasant discovery. Hearing lost through noise damage will not come back, it is gone for good.

Now the Old Git is more careful with his health and safety than most self employed builders who have to arrange their own health monitoring. He owns a pair of high spec. ear defenders and wears them whenever he thinks he is around very loud noise.  The problem was, the Old Git didn't think his noise exposure was significant because he already couldn't hear how loud it really was. I played him an example of the highest level of noise you should be exposed to without ear defenders, and it wasn't that loud to him.

Existing hearing damage, whether it comes from occupational noise exposure or an Ipod turned up too loud, means that you cannot trust your ears to tell you that they are being damaged.

"I know not to play it too loud" doesn't work if you can't hear how loud it is.
I know from experience that most self employed builders don't want to hear about protecting their long term health, especially when a test will cost them money and they don't have any option but to stay in the trade, but really, truly, if you have a family member in the building trade, *make* them go and get a hearing test before it is too late.

And if you are in the south east of England and need a hearing test from someone who understands the building trade, I can help with that.

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