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What You Can Do to Prevent Hearing Loss on The Job

Take care of your ears

In our industrial world, noise is an ever-present reality; however, all this noise can lead to hearing damage and long-term hearing loss if not properly guarded against. According to research done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational hearing loss is the most common occupational illness in manufacturing, affecting approximately 1 in 9 workers in these industries. Noise-induced hearing loss is the term used to describe the hearing loss that is not the result of aging or genetics. We can work to reduce NIHL by understanding what causes it and then taking measures to prevent it. Here are 3 things every employer or employee should know about workplace hearing loss:

  1. Causes of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
  • Acoustic Trauma is the term used to describe the damage that an ear suffers due to noise
  • It may be the result of a singular loud sound or a gradual build-up due to constant exposure to loud noise
  • The threshold for damaging noise is 85 dBA according to OSHA
  • Hearing damage can be either temporary or permanent depending on the severity of the damage
  1. What an Employee Can Do
  • The best way to deal with noise-induced hearing loss is to prevent it in the first place
  • Utilizing protective equipment like ear plugs or ear muffs will help mitigate the sound and protect your ears
  • Ensure that the earplugs or other devices fit properly to maximize their effectiveness
  • Reduce your time around loud noises if possible and take your breaks away from the sources of loud noise
  • If you think that you are suffering from hearing loss, have your hearing tested
  1. What an Employer Can Do
  • Employers can provide their employees with protection by implementing controls that reduce noise
  • Examples of effective noise-reducing engineering controls include engine mufflers, sound-absorbing tile, and low-noise equipment
  • Administrative controls such as rotating workers so that they limit their time around loud machinery will also help to reduce hearing damage
  • If engineering or administrative controls are not able to be implemented, employees should be provided with the proper personal protective equipment

We all can take time to protect ourselves from noise-induced hearing loss. It is one of the most preventable workplace injuries, but, as it was mentioned earlier, NIHL accounts for a large portion of recorded illnesses. Take steps to protect your hearing and encourage others to do so as well. Read the Nova blog for more on workplace safety, wellness tips, and injury prevention.


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