Permanent hearing loss can be a devastating consequence of prolonged exposure to loud noise. A loud job site can also cause a decrease in productivity and lead to more workplace accidents since a lot of background noise can make it more difficult to hear those around you. Once permanent hearing loss occurs, it is not reversible, but you can prevent damage to your hearing by taking the right measures to protect your ears.
How Does Hearing Loss Occur?
A one-time event, such as a very loud explosion, can cause damage to your hearing pretty quickly, but other types of noise can cause your hearing to diminish more slowly. Damage to your ear can occur at relatively low noise levels, such as that of a running lawnmower, if the exposure time is more than 8 hours.
Hearing loss happens after the cilia, which are tiny hair cells within the inner ear, become damaged. Typically, cilia that hear higher frequency noised are damaged first, followed by the rest of the ear.
Are The Noises I’m Exposed to Causing Hearing Damage?
Sound is measured in the form of decibels, and dBA is used to measure sound intensity. According to OSHA, the recommended dBA in a workplace should be below 85 for an 8 hour time period.
How Can I Protect My Ears?
Ear protection, such as earmuffs or earplugs, can greatly reduce your exposure to loud noises that cause ear damage. You should make plans to protect yourself before hazardous, noisy jobs begin. Your employer can also take preventative measures by buying sound barriers and scheduling noisy work for times when fewer people are around. Make sure you’re aware of when loud noises will be occurring on the job and make plans to take preventative measures and wear protective ear coverings if you can’t avoid the work area or have to work with loud equipment.
You may even wish to ask your employer to invest in more expensive, quieter equipment if possible to reduce noise exposure. In addition to this, ensuring that existing equipment is properly maintained occasionally helps reduce the amount of noise it produces.
Sometimes, loud noise is unavoidable while on the job. If you know you’re going to be exposed to noise, don’t forget to wear proper ear protection to prevent future hearing loss.