HC Deb 13 June 1972 vol 838 cc1246-7
17. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what research is being undertaken by his Department into hearing loss caused by industrial noise.

Mr. Dean

None directly at present, but research on all aspects of audiology is being undertaken in a large number of universities, polytechnics and other laboratories. The results of a research project promoted under Section 71 of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act were published in 1970 in a report entitled "Hearing and Noise in Industry".

Mr. McNair-Wilson

But my hon. Friend will agree that we are now becoming aware that noise in industry is constituting an injury, that more than 500,000 people are subjected to noise levels continuously of over 90 decibels, and that therefore considerable loss of hearing is being caused. Surely, therefore, insufficient appears to be being done and more should be done to research into this loss of hearing in terms of industrial injury.

Mr. Dean

We share my hon. Friend's concern about this. It is for this reason that the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council is now considering whether there are degrees of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in the course of employment which would satisfy the conditions for prescription as an industrial disease. Its inquiries are continuing and I cannot say at the moment when they will be complete.

Mr. Molloy

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that noise in industry is having a very serious effect now, not only on the people working in the industries concerned but on folk living nearby? Would he therefore make sure, when these reports are available, that they include the effects on people living near the industries which are causing much of the anguish, not only because of loss of hearing but because of the grave effects on their nerves?

Mr. Dean

I am grateful for that point and will ensure that it is drawn to the council's attention.