Truck drivers and hearing loss is a commonly overlooked industry hazard. When we drive, we need our hearing sense to connect us to the driving conditions around us. Our hearing helps us to detect hazards and other driver behaviour. Hearing loss can have a negative impact on a truck driver’s ability to do their job.
If you have mild to moderate hearing loss, it won’t affect your ability to drive safely. You probably overcompensate by being more cautious and vigilant on the road, relying more on visuals to navigate the traffic around you. One out of every six Australians have some form of gradual hearing loss. The condition can be hereditary, caused by illness, aging, prolonged exposure to loud noise or a combination.
Commercial vehicle drivers need to be able to respond to other driver behaviour and have enough hearing level to notice engine noises such as braking and gear changes; and be aware of signal noises such as railway crossings, horns and sirens.
Truck drivers and hearing loss
A study completed on 500 truck drivers in Fars province, Iran concluded that hearing damage is more likely to occur at higher frequencies in both ears, than the lower frequencies. This concludes that hearing loss and truck drivers is an occupational hazard. Noise level can be reduced by concealing truck noise levels in the cab, reducing the hours of driving and improving road surfaces.
Noise can be a stress inducer and levels inside the cab of a truck can be in the range of 88.6–102.4dB and 87.95–103.4dB. It has also been suggested that prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can induce hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is sensorineural, causing anoxic brain damage and injury to the cochlea.
Australian road laws require drivers of commercial vehicles to meet a hearing standard. If you have an audiometry and your hearing loss is greater than or equal to 40dB in your good ear, you are not allowed to hold an unconditional commercial license. You may be issued with a conditional license by a licensing authority if you undertake an ongoing review. Conditions will be set based on information provided by your audiologist and whether you can meet the standard with a hearing aid. The truck may also require to be fitted with assistive driving fixtures such as a GPS or mirrors.
The conditions will be set according to what sort of truck driving you do: whether you are a long-haul truck driver, a delivery driver, a road works driver and so on.
Truck drivers are exposed to road and truck noise as well as vehicle vibrations for long durations. Unfortunately wearing noise muffling gear is does not aurally connect the driver to safety indications coming from the truck and the driving environment. Modern truck cabs reduce engine and road noise compared to older style trucks.
The Hearing Cub
The Hearing Club is a local and independent hearing service provider. Our aim is to assist the hearing impaired to achieve the greatest enjoyment from life.
If you are a truck driver and are noticing a gradual loss in hearing, we can conduct an audiometry to determine your hearing levels and whether you meet the standards for an unconditional or conditional licence. We provide ongoing reviews of your hearing health and reports to your employer and licencing authority.
We consult with employers who need to test their truck drivers and hearing loss to meet workplace and driver safety standards. We provide diagnostic hearing tests for employees to keep your truck drivers fit to carry out their duties.
To make an appointment with one of our professional staff please call 1800 627 728. To find a clinic near you, contact us online today.