Hearing Impairment

Signs and Symptoms

Hearing impairments affect a person’s ability to communicate and interact with the world around them. Functional hearing loss can range in severity from partial to complete loss of sound. It can be caused by a multitude of factors including illness, infection, trauma, genetics congenital conditions, or age.

People who identify as Deaf (with a capitalised D) may have difficulty identifying environmental sounds, others may have no functional hearing and rely on sign language and lip reading to communicate.

A person may also experience Tinnitus, a consistent ringing in the ears when no such physical noise is present. This may affect their ability to concentrate
on tasks or to sleep, causing fatigue.

It is important to consider how environmental factors and occupational conditions affect an individual’s hearing. Loud machinery, high frequency pitches or excessive exposure to audio devices can result in damage to the inner ear and nerves.

1 in 6 Australians are affected by hearing loss

Australian Bureau of Statistics


Affect on Daily Life at Work

» Hearing impairments affect the person’s ability to communicate with colleagues and customers. They may rely on sign language, lip reading or an interpreter

» Your workplace emergency procedures may need to be adapted to accommodate their hearing capacity
» They may experience frustration when communicating, leading
to them avoiding social situations
» Unexpected hearing loss can have a negative impact on mental health, resulting in low mood and withdrawal from social interactions.

Workplace Support

» Ensure you understand their impairment and their hearing capacity

» Consider your induction protocol and ensure it’s accessible to your employee

» Ensure any modifications, aids or assistive technologies are in place from their first day of employment

» Consider existing workplace communication such as meetings, ensure these are adapted so the employee is not excluded
» Ensure they are confident in a evacuation procedures
» Consider providing personal protective equipment
(PPE) in your workplace to protect your employees from industrial deafness

For additional resources and support, visit Deaf Australia