05/01/2012 10:19 EDT | Updated 07/01/2012 05:12 EDT

School noise levels causing teachers' hearing loss

Some teachers in Winnipeg's largest school division are experiencing some hearing loss due to high noise levels in the workplace, according to a recent survey.

The Winnipeg School Division tests about 400 teaching and non-teaching staff every year for hearing loss, and officials say this is the first time they have seen a shift.

"It's a warning sign to us that we need to do something," Eugene Gerbasi, the division's director of human resources, told CBC News.

"If we don't do something, individuals could potentially lose their hearing."

The school division conducted a recent survey that found school gymnasiums are the noisiest, at more than 90 decibels.

Under Manitoba's workplace legislation, noise levels cannot exceed 85 decibels.

That finding does not surprise Nick Dyck, who was a gym teacher for 20 years.

"There are certain pitches or certain noise levels, for example, that I don't hear conversations anymore," said Dyck, who is now a physical education and health consultant with the Pembina Trails School Division.

"I really have to strain to hear people and I can't help but think … it has to have something to do with the noise levels that I've gone through."

Other school areas that scored high noise levels include choir, music and band rooms, as well as industrial arts classrooms.

Gerbasi said teachers and staff at Winnipeg School Division will soon have to start wearing protective hearing devices.

But students do not need to worry, as they are not in gyms or band rooms long enough to experience hearing damage, according to officials.