Occupational Hearing Loss – What You Need To Know

Did you know that hearing loss due to occupational noise is one of the leading workplace injuries worldwide? Workplace noise hazards can lead to significant hearing loss, and in most cases is 100% preventable. 

Protecting your hearing in the workplace is a pretty simple step to prevent long-term hearing loss that can stay with you the rest of your life. To be proactive, it’s important to take appropriate steps and utilize the proper personal protective equipment to ensure that workplace noise hazards don’t cause permanent damage to your hearing. 

We’re exploring what you should know about occupational hearing loss.

Occupational Hearing Loss – What You Need To Know

Occupational noise exposure can be one of the biggest sources of potentially dangerous noise. Workplace noise exposure can have a serious impact on your hearing. Emergency response industries, entertainment industries or construction sites are just a few industries where you’re more likely to be exposed to dangerous noise. 

Exposure to dangerous noise in our day-to-day lives is sometimes unavoidable. However, when it comes to your workplace, you should feel confident in the measures in place to protect your hearing. 

Repeated exposure to loud noises in the workplace can cause temporary hearing loss or a ringing in the ears (tinnitus), or can sometimes lead to permanent loss. 

Severe hearing loss can affect productivity, ability to communicate effectively, it can cause psychological and physical stress and can cause greater risk in the workplace. Here are some common workplace noise hazards to be aware of.

  • The use of heavy machinery in any application – Most pieces of large equipment come with a moderate amount of occupational noise. From agricultural to construction applications, waste management, industrial manufacturing and many processing plants, the equipment used to manufacture and process materials is typically large and loud. Every workplace will have their own set of protocols, but it’s important to ensure you have the proper PPE and pay attention to manufacturers protocols too.
  • Pneumatic Tools – Using high pressured air power tools comes with some hefty sound! These types of tools can cause hearing loss in the workplace over an extended period of time if the proper preventative measures aren’t enforced.
  • Impact tools – Drop hammers, riveters, and drop forges are good examples of heavy impact tools that can cause serious workplace hearing loss over time.
  • Any workplace that has consistent loud ambient noise – Amusement parks, bars, somewhere with vacuums running constantly or machines like hand driers or backpack blowers can be the cause for hearing loss due to occupational noise.
  • Workshops or auto shops – Anytime there is the constant use of high-power tools, or heavy equipment that requires a variety of energy sources to operate, occupational noise risks should be taken into consideration for employees.
  • Construction work areas – Among other risks and hazards, construction zones and development areas use equipment that exceeds healthy sound levels almost daily. From hand held tools to heavy equipment, hard laborers at construction sites are exposed to occupational noise hazards almost daily.

Noise levels in the workplace should be monitored, and if they consistently exceed 85 decibels in an 8-hour work period, your workplace should be taking immediate action to protect workers from noise, while attempting to mitigate employee exposure to sound. Typically, if amendments or alterations to equipment cannot be made, supplying workers with the proper personal protective equipment is enough to protect their hearing for the long term. 

Being proactive in the workplace is the best way to ensure workplace noise hazards don’t leave lasting damage to worker’s hearing. If you’re concerned about occupational noise in your workplace, be sure you bring up your concerns with supervisors. 

Contact Us Today!

If you’re interested in learning more about occupational hearing loss, contact the hearing healthcare specialists at Regional Hearing and Balance Center. Please call us on 208-497-3596, or click here to request an appointment online.

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The purpose of this hearing assessment and/or demonstration is for hearing wellness and to determine if the consumer may benefit from using hearing aids, which may include selling and fitting hearing aids. Products demonstrated may differ from products sold. Assessment conclusion is not a medical diagnosis and further testing may be required to diagnose hearing loss. The use of any hearing aid may not fully restore normal hearing and does not prevent future hearing loss. Hearing instruments may not meet the needs of all hearing-impaired individuals.