When Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) WorkSafe benefit claims rose by 16.5% in 2008, this issue was identified a significant safety concern. Researchers were asked to scrutinise existing policy in this area and identify any necessary changes.

Professor Malcolm Sim from the Centre for Occupationaland Environmental Health led a research team which evaluated WorkSafe's assessment method for NIHL, and then developed a longer-term research plan.

This planning led directly into a new research project examining noise exposure and the NIHL risk as experienced specifically by apprentices in carpentry and construction. Professor Sim was joined by Dr Geza Benke and Dr Ewan MacFarlane for this work.

The objective of that project was to determine key themes related to hearing loss and noise control among apprentices, compare these findings to those for management, and determine influential factors in the workplace.

This project was funded through a partnership with the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The initial NIHL project produced a report analysing related compensation claims between 1998-99 and 2008-09.

Following this, the research team prepared seven reports for WorkSafe on various relevant topics:

This research has allowed WorkSafe to focus its strategic response to growing NIHL claims – and most notably has prompted WorkSafe to seek a definitive decision on the issue of compensation for tinnitus.

Meanwhile, the research project into NIHL risk amongst apprentices also produced a final report,recommending better design and implementation of noise control programs.