Audiometry medical test in the Merchant Navy

Adequate hearing facilitates day-to-day communication on the ship. These communications often occur with background noise that can interrupt the normal sound flow. Suppose you are sailing on an LNG tanker, and you go to sleep after a tiring day at work. In the middle of the night, audible alarms that signal safety information on the ship start blowing. But due to some medical hearing problems, you cannot follow the safety signal and only wake up after a fellow seafarer informs you about the danger. Imagine what would have happened if you were not told about the risk on time. You could have put a threat to your own as well as other people’s lives on the ship.

Audiometry medical Test ear
Audiometry Test

There are few medical audiometric standards set by the Government of India for seafarers. The minimum decibels unit is fixed at 40dB, which means that every aspiring seafarer should be able to hear 40dB sound at all frequencies. High noise levels are a feature of machinery spaces. Prolonged exposure to high noise levels leads to noise-induced hearing loss, a recognized occupational disease. This can result in an inability to hear the spoken word and, in severe cases, alarms. Considering the degeneration process with an increase in age, a relaxation unit of 70dB for in-service seafarers has been provided. 

ENT medical Specialist
ENT Specialist

Suppose a candidate had ear surgery a few months before his medical examination in the merchant navy. If the candidate possesses no hearing problem post-surgery, he/she can join the merchant navy by following a few steps –

  1. The doctor will refer you to an ENT specialist who will take your audiometry test by using sounds of different frequencies such as 125 Hz, 150Hz, and at different loudness levels.
  2. After that, the audiologist will provide you with the report examined by the doctor, who further performs a clinical examination. 
Sound Frequency ear
Sound Frequency

 Some FAQs –

  1. If one of your ears has a high-frequency loss, will you be eligible for Merchant Navy?
  • Both ears must meet the minimum qualifying unit of 40dB for students and 70 dB for in-service sailors. 
  1. If you have a hole in your eardrum, will you be eligible for Merchant Navy?
  • Ruptured eardrums can result in hearing loss. Hence, you can not join the Merchant Navy if you have any medical condition that makes you medically unfit.
  1. Ear wax problem that caused a loss of hearing. Can you join the Merchant navy?
  • Ear wax is a temporary issue that can be cured by ear drops – drops that can be used several times a day for a few days to soften the earwax so that it falls out by itself. If no hearing aid is experienced after the treatment of ear wax, you can join the Merchant Navy.
  1. Your left ear has a 4Hz dip. Will it pose a problem for medicals in the merchant navy if it increases to a 5Hz dip?
  • The ear dip is measured in decibels. If you can hear a 40dB sound, you are medically fit to join the Merchant Navy.

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