Exposure to intense noises – especially in loud construction and industrial areas – can lead to irreversible hearing loss, which is why workers should know proper hearing protection safety tips.
Hearing loss not only affects a person’s professional life, but also their home and social life. It’s important for employers to raise awareness on the dangers of long-term noise exposure and implement safety measures to prevent hearing damage on the job.
5 hearing protection safety tips
- Promote hearing protection from beginning to end. It helps for employers to plan noise-control measures early on, tailoring safety precautions to the specific job and opting for quieter equipment where possible. Throughout a project, employers should do their best to rotate workers frequently and isolate noise with barriers and absorbent material.
- Follow OSHA and NIOSH standards. Employers should make sure they’re meeting Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) standards for hearing protection. Exposure to noise that is measured at 85 decibels or higher for an average of eight hours a day is considered to be a hearing hazard.
- Use personal hearing protection. Industrial-grade hearing protection should be worn at all times when working in noisy areas. It’s largely up to employers to ensure that workers are wearing the proper hearing-related personal protective equipment (PPE). This mostly includes earplugs and earmuffs. It’s key to choose a solution that’s both comfortable and suitable for the tasks at hand (not causing harm to the ear canal), as well as compatible with other PPE like hard hats and masks. NOTE: Trying to drown out surrounding noise by cranking up music with noise-canceling headphones can do more harm than good.
- Avoid smoking and track blood sugar levels. This may sound odd, but smoking doesn’t just damage your lungs and heart, it suffocates cells throughout the body, including those in the ear canal. This increases the chance of hearing loss. High blood sugar levels can also be damaging to the body’s cells.
- Be aware of loud noise off the job. Attending a concert or similar event can be just as noisy as listening to a jackhammer. Take noise levels into consideration before making plans with friends and family members.