Preventing Hearing Loss
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 1 million employees in Great Britain are exposed to levels of noise that put their hearing at risk. Many workers are often exposed to noises that are loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss. It can happen slowly over time, so it may not even be noticeable. But once it occurs, hearing loss is permanent. The good news is that hearing loss is preventable with the right protection.
To protect yourself in the workplace, you need to be aware of the noise levels that can promote hearing loss and to take steps to avoid or reduce them as follows.
- Workplace noise can be hazardous if:
- You have to raise your voice to talk to someone who is an arm’s length away.
- After leaving a noisy place, your ears are ringing or sounds seem dull.
- Experts recommend wearing ear protection when regularly exposed to 80 decibels of noise. For comparison’s sake, this is less than the noise output from average traffic, most power tools, a shot-gun blast or rock concerts.
- Be sure to wear hearing loss protective equipment consistently.
If you suffer from hearing loss, you may become more isolated at work because you will have trouble hearing and communicating with others. This can put you at a higher risk of accidents and injuries. If you are not able to hear warning signals or shouts from your co-workers, you may not be as aware of hazards or danger as you need to be.
It is up to you to protect your hearing on-site by participating in personal protective equipment (PPE) training and complying with our hearing loss prevention programme by wearing your hearing protection, as required.
Types of Hearing Protection
The louder the noise, the shorter the exposure time needed before hearing protection is required. From earmuffs to plugs, there are a variety of sizes and styles to choose from, based on your preferences and comfort level. Some of the most common types include:
- Single-use ear plugs, which are self-forming and, when properly inserted, work as well as most moulded earplugs.
- Pre-formed or moulded earplugs, which are individually fitted by a professional, can be disposable or reusable. Reusable plugs should be cleaned after each use.
- Earmuffs, which are ideal because they form a perfect seal around the ear. Be aware that glasses, facial hair, long hair or facial movements, such as chewing, may reduce the protective value of earmuffs.
Hearing loss can be debilitating and is irreversible. Taking precautions in the workplace today will help to protect you against hearing loss tomorrow.