What’s that Noise? Hearing Safety at Work

A man wearing a safety vest, hard hat, safety glasses, and protective ear muffs is standing in an industrial plant.

About 22 million workers experience exposure to noise that can damage their hearing at work each year, according to the Center for Disease Control. Repeated exposure to high noise levels can lead to permanent hearing loss or other hearing-related issues. This can occur in various ways, such as operating noisy machinery, working in construction and manufacturing, or being exposed to loud music for extended periods of time.

How loud is loud enough to cause hearing damage? Exposure to noise above 70 decibels for an extended period of time, or higher decibel levels for a shorter time, may begin to cause damage. Noise above 120 decibels, which is equivalent to standing next to or near sirens, can cause immediate damage.

Prevention is the best cure. There are several types of hearing protection that can minimize the risks associated with loud noise exposure:

  1. Earplugs: These are small devices made of foam or silicone that are inserted into the ear canal to block out noise. They are lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to use. Earplugs come in various sizes and shapes.
  2. Earmuffs: Earmuffs consist of two sound-attenuating cups connected by a headband. They cover the entire ear and create a seal to block out noise. Earmuffs are particularly effective in environments with constant loud noise levels or when earplugs are not suitable.
  3. Canal Caps: Canal caps combine the benefits of both earplugs and earmuffs. They are designed to fit over the pinna of the ear and have attached earplugs that seal the ear canal.
  4. Custom-Made Protection: For individuals exposed to loud noise regularly, custom-made hearing protection can be an option. These are molded to fit the shape of the individual’s ear, providing a comfortable and secure fit.

Keep your hearing safe with these steps:

  1. Identify high-noise areas in your workplace. This can help you determine when and where you need to wear hearing protection.
  2. Wear hearing protection correctly for the noise levels in your environment. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to wear them correctly and ensure a proper seal.
  3. Maintain and inspect hearing protection regularly ensuring there are no signs of damage or wear. Replace them, if necessary, as compromised protection may not effectively block out noise.
  4. Communicate effectively in situations where hearing protection is necessary and ensure that you have established effective communication methods with your coworkers. Signals, hand gestures, or visual cues can help maintain communication while protecting your hearing.

Protecting one’s hearing is essential to maintaining long-term health and well-being. By understanding the potential risks to hearing, the various types of hearing protection available, and following the steps to protect hearing effectively, you can minimize the chances of experiencing hearing loss or other hearing-related issues.

About Express

Express Employment Professionals is the second largest Industrial Staffing provider in the U.S., and we’ve put more than 11 million people to work worldwide during our 40 years in the staffing industry. If you’re on the hunt for a Light Industrial or Skilled Trades role, we can help. Contact your local Express office, download the ExpressJobs app from your mobile store, or fill out our online contact form to get started.

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