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One in five UK tradespeople suffer hearing problems due to work 

Published: 7 February 2024 - DIY Week

More than a fifth (21%) of tradespeople have hearing problems due to their work, according to new research commissioned for Tinnitus Awareness Week (5-11th February). 

The study by IronmongeryDirect, the UK’s largest supplier of specialist ironmongery, surveyed workers across the nation to reveal the scale of hearing problems in the industry and how many people are taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves.  


As well as those who are already experiencing problems, more than a fifth (21%) fear they will have hearing issues in the future, and more than one in six (19%) have a colleague with symptoms. 

Sadly, the problems appear to begin early, as almost half (49%) of 18–34-year-olds say that they have already started to have trouble hearing. 

Despite many people seeing symptoms, unfortunately the vast majority are not taking steps to protect themselves. Only one in nine (11%) have their hearing checked regularly and just one in six (17%) say they always wear ear defenders when they should.  

The problem is more significant in some trades than others, with bricklayers the most likely to have issues (50%). 

The trades where workers are most likely to experience hearing problems are: 

1. Bricklayer 50% 
2. Builder 30% 
3. Carpenter 27% 
4. Plumber 23% 
5. Landscaper 22%
6. Painter decorator 21% 
7. Caretaker/ maintenance 21% 
8. Electrician 16% 
9. Building surveyor 11% 
10. Joiner 10% 

To help explain the importance of protecting your hearing at work, IronmongeryDirect has partnered with Nic Wray, Communications Manager at Tinnitus UK, to explain the consequences of not doing so.  

Nic comments: “Exposure to loud noise can damage your ears, leading to hearing loss and tinnitus. Noise starts to become a risk to hearing at 80 decibels (dBA) and in a working environment, hearing protection should be provided at 85 dBA or above.” 

If you think your hearing could be affected by your surroundings, here are the signs to look out for: 

  • You have to raise your voice to be heard  
  • You can’t hear or understand someone one metre (three feet) away from you  
  • Speech around you sounds dull or muffled if you move away from the noisy area 
  • To avoid this happening, Nic has also shared ways to protect yourself while working: "Protecting your hearing is very important. Once the damage has been done, it cannot be repaired, only managed. Being aware of the problems that loud noise can cause, and the steps you can take to protect yourself, is vital.” 
  • Keep your hearing protection safe, clean and in good condition  
  • Take regular breaks in a quiet(er) location  
  • Drink lots of water – staying hydrated is essential for ear health 
  • Get the right type of protection with the right levels of sound reduction 
  • Have your hearing checked regularly – many High Street providers offer free hearing tests, or your GP can arrange one for you.   

Ellis Osborn, Ecommerce Manager, IronmongeryDirect, said: “Hearing protection for tradespeople is incredibly important and our research suggests that there’s still more work to be done to make sure people are protected. 

“It’s really important that individuals look after their own hearing by wearing appropriate protection while working in loud settings, as well as scheduling regular hearing check-ups. That’s why we’ve partnered with Tinnitus UK to provide expert advice and hopefully start to address the problem within the industry.” 

For more expert advice on protecting your hearing, visit:  



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