As the weather chills and the day turns to night, there is something sinister lurking in the air...That's right...the monster hiding around the corner is loud noise you may be unprotected from. For National Hearing Protection Month, we'll discuss some ways you can protect your hearing.
Why do you need to protect your hearing?
Constant exposure to loud noise can damage the cilia--tiny hair cells that aid in hearing--in your ear, resulting in hearing loss or tinnitus. The maximum level of sound before damage begins is 85 decibels, but the average power tool runs anywhere between 90 and 110 decibels! Because of this, it is incredibly important to wear protective equipment while working. To help put this into perspective, a normal conversation is about 60 dBA. If you find it hard to speak at a normal level over equipment or processes inside or outside of your facility, you should probably have noise sampling completed. Hearing protection should be provided if your coworkers or employees are being exposed to 85 dBA or greater over an 8-hour day, and they cannot be exposed to 90 dBA or greater.
What can you wear to protect your hearing, both on and off the job?
Personal protection equipment (PPE) should be your last line of defense. So be sure to implement the hierarchy of controls when trying to protect your coworkers and employees. Each hearing protection device comes with a noise reduction rating (NRR) which shows the amount of reduction you can expect to get from the device. Below are options OSHA recommends, each with their own positives and negatives:
What is a hearing conservation program?
A hearing conservation program strives to prevent initial occupational hearing loss, preserve and protect your hearing, and equip workers with the knowledge and hearing protection devices necessary to safeguard themselves. Your employer is required by OSHA to measure noise levels, provide free annual hearing exams, hearing protection, and training. It is important to consider that when noise is measured, there is a standard deviation of +/- 2 dBA.
Who are you gonna call?
If hearing conservation is something that keeps you up at night, Safety Training & Environmental Protection can help! We offer noise level sampling, spot checking, noise maps of facilities, and will work with you to develop or update your Hearing Conservation Program. Contact us today for a quote!
NIDCD. (2018, Sep 26). October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/news/2018/october-is-npyhm
OSHA. (n.d.). Worker Safety Series: Protecting Yourself from Noise in Construction. OSHA. https://www.osha.gov/sites/default/files/publications/3498noise-in-construction-pocket-guide.pdf