Noise pollution is a serious problem for those who work in or around mechanical equipment, power-tools, or construction sites. Anybody who has walked past a jackhammer will know that.
Loud noises can cause temporary hearing loss, and prolonged exposure to these sounds can even lead to permanent deafness. Fortunately, there are ways you can protect your hearing if you work in a loud environment.
Recognize the Signs Early On
Hearing naturally worsens with age, but a recent study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), says that the average person won’t experience hearing loss until they reach 60.
It is important to take precautions to protect your hearing in a noisy workplace or your hearing will deteriorate much quicker.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “by age 25, the average carpenter has the same hearing as someone who is 50 years old and has worked in a quiet job.”
Ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus, is a sign of both short and long-term damage. Consult your doctor immediately if you start to experience this.
Think about the Workplace
If you work in a noisy workplace, go to less noisy areas when not engaging machinery/are on breaks.
Report defective equipment, since they might be a cause of excessive noise.
Operate noisy machines during shifts when fewer people are exposed and make sure that managers limit the amount of time a worker spends at a noise source.
No more than 15 minutes of unprotected exposure of 100 decibels is recommended. Regular exposure of 110 decibels (and higher) for more than one minute risks permanent hearing loss.
Use Earplugs and Earmuffs
For those who use heavy equipment or machinery, earplugs are essential.
Expandable foam earplugs are inexpensive, easy to carry around, and are comfortable when worn correctly.
Earmuffs are a good alternative to earplugs. They cover the entire outer ear but may not be suitable for people who wear glasses.
Investing in earplugs or earmuffs could help your hearing in the future, so think about buying them today.
Use Electronic Hearing Protection
Electronic hearing protection are devices commonly used when working with loud machinery. If you are not using them and are thinking of investing in a device, here are some useful tips to choose the right one for your needs:
- Choose a device with the right noise rating. Most devices have a minimum rating of 19db, but if you’re often exposed to noises such as chainsaws, select one with a rating greater than 20db.
- If you’re going to wear the device regularly, make sure it is comfortable. The muffs should be padded enough so they fit over your ears without causing any excess pressure on your ears. They should also have an adjustable strap to be snug around your head.
- Consider devices with noise cancellation technology. These are ideal for workers who regularly hear low-frequency noises such as motors or fans.
- Look at behind-the-ear electronic hearing protection devices. These work similar to hearing devices and worn behind your ear. They provide protection up to 29db. These types of devices are ideal if you’re working with loud machinery.