Responsibilities of employers
Moreover, employers should have a comprehensive health care policy, complying with The Factories and Industrial Undertakings Regulation, appoint a qualified person to exam the high level sound machines and undergo a noise assessment, evaluating the impacts of noise to DJs. They should formulate some abatement strategies on noise reduction, they can demarcate an area of ear protection zone where DJs can stay during their breaks. Noise transmission restriction should also put into practice, acoustic foams installation around the disco area, reduce direct sound waves transmission to DJs and customers ears by absorbing the echoes. Employers should provide trainings or exhibitions on hearing protection, strengthening the DJs awareness on occupational deafness. They should as well assist vocational rehabilitation, providing hearing loss treatments.
Limitations of preventions
However, limitations exit. Most DJs think that custom moulded earplugs are expensive and too effective, most music will be blocked which affect music quality and job performance. They have to remove one of the earplugs for a sound check, ensure the volume is optimal to customers. Because one of their ears are not protected, this will lead to a weaker and stronger hearing ability, lead to desensitization. Employers may worry about the price and complicated project of installing soundproofing walls as if incorrectly placed, it will not be effective, therefore most of the discos do not have the protection.
Launching of Compensation Scheme by Government
The Hong Kong Occupational Deafness Compensation Board has set up the Occupational Deafness Compensation Scheme, which claimants can receive a compensation if occupational deafness disability requirements are fulfilled. DJs who undergo their first time compensation, need to have at least 10 years of specified noisy occupation employment and they have to be employed under a continuous contract in a specified occupation in Hong Kong for at least 4 weeks during the pass 12 months. DJs have to either afflicted by binaural hearing loss or monaural hearing loss in order to receive the allowance. Further compensation is permitted if the applicants work under the specified noisy occupation for at least 3 years and the percentage of permanent incapacity needs to be greater than the percentage from the previous approved application. During 2016/2017, the Board has received 446 applications, which 371 applied for first compensation and 370 of them are male and over 60% of them are above 56 years old. However, majority of claimants work were engaged in combustion engines, jet engines or metal grinding, none was working in discotheque sector. Around HK$ 19,000,000 of compensation was given out.
Limitations on Compensation Scheme
Most DJs choose not to apply the compensation scheme because of several reasons; complicated and long procedures during application period. DJs have to attend relevant hearing and ear examinations which are taken in the Hong Kong Society for the Deaf and pubic clinics under the Occupational Health Clinic of the Labour Department. These are time consuming and can be costly. Also, if the DJs are no longer employed in specified working area, they have to apply the compensation within 12 months after left such employment. In fact, most DJs have not yet developed tinnitus or hearing loss in 10 years’ time, compensation will not be received even they left their occupations.
Although DJs are the minority out of all working sectors in Hong Kong, their risk of developing occupational deafness is much higher than others. Government should increase workers’ alertness through different medium as communication is the best method to spread the message to public. More educational and promotional programmes should be carried out, for example, during 2017, the Board has organised The Hearing Conservation Best Practise Award which is co-organised with the Occupational Safety and Health Council, the award is promulgated to organisations which have made significant efforts on safety hearing implementation. This can encourage employers to work more collaborative with DJs, create a healthy employment relationship.
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