Tradie's freak workplace injury during welding job

·News Reporter
·2-min read

A tradie’s freak workplace injury has led to a loss of hearing.

The man, 60, a welder from Western Australia, was taken to the emergency room complaining about “severe burning pain” in his right ear, according to his case in the British Medical Journal Case Reports.

“He had been using an ‘OxyTorch’ soldering iron on the underside of his semitrailer earlier that day,” researchers wrote.

“He was lying on his left side directly underneath the welding site and was not wearing ear protection.”

Some molten steel had come off the semitrailer and fallen directly into the man’s external auditory canal (EAC).

A piece of metal seen lodged in the ear of a 60-year-old man in a CT scan.
Metal can be seen lodged in the man's ear in this CT scan. Source: The BMJ Case Reports

“He felt immediate severe burning pain to the right ear with associated loud ‘fire cracker’ like sounds, hearing loss and fullness,” researchers wrote.

“He poured cool tap water down the right EAC to some relief of the burning discomfort. He denied any vertigo or haemifacial weakness, but did report minor taste disturbance.”

Doctors noticed some singed hairs in his ear and some perforation of the drum. He also suffered two ear infections within the first month of suffering the injury.

He was referred to the ear, nose and throat surgery outpatient clinic and underwent a CT scan.

The CT scan found “a 1.7 mm spherical metallic foreign body” in his ear. It was also determined he had suffered some hearing loss.

The metal mass was removed via surgery and doctors determined he had suffered no permanent hearing loss as a result of it being lodged in his ear.

He returned to work with ear protection.

Doctors noted his case is a “very rare” one, with only four similar cases reported in international literature, but warned similar incidents could see someone suffer permanent and severe damage to hearing.

“The case presented is of an exceedingly lucky man who suffered only mild conductive hearing loss from his injury and had a positive outcome from surgical intervention with full recovery of his hearing and removal of the offending foreign body,” researchers wrote.

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