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Are You at Risk for Occupational Hearing Damage?

Learn how to protect your hearing at work for years to come.

Noise has been shown to be one of the most common occupational health problems. Employees operating heavy equipment or machinery are at the highest risk for hearing damage or loss. The loss of hearing can be temporary or permanent, so it is important to protect your hearing at all times. 

 

Technically, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure employees possess and use hearing protection during work. However, it is the employee’s responsibility to consistently use hearing protection and report any hearing safety issues to OSHA. 

 

Signs of Hearing Loss

Many people don’t notice that their hearing has declined. The loss typically occurs slowly over time, making it difficult to pinpoint. Symptoms of hearing loss include misunderstanding what others are saying, trouble following conversations in public, and ringing in the ears. If you currently aren’t experiencing any of these symptoms, that is wonderful. Prevention is the key to hearing loss. Below are some suggestions for ensuring that your hearing remains clear for years to come. 

 

Manufacturing Equipment

A study in Michigan found that more than half of occupational hearing loss cases resulted from working in the manufacturing sector. Production line work results in long-term and frequent exposure to high noise. Working without proper hearing protection in these environments is guaranteed to cause permanent hearing loss. 

 

Construction and Carpentry

If you have ever walked by a construction site, you know just how loud it can be. Imagine working with these noise levels every day, without any hearing protection. It wouldn’t be long before you saw permanent hearing loss. Constant loud noises by tools can wear down a person’s hearing, even with protection. It is important to invest in a good set of ear protection or to use ear plugs as well as over-ear models.

 

Shooting Ranges

Military and police personnel are required to qualify on different weapons. This translates into many hours spent at gun ranges. For gun ranges, heavy-duty ear protection is required. Exposure to gunshots over even a short amount of time can lead to permanent hearing loss. 

 

Always Use Hearing Protection

In loud occupational environments, use hearing protection constantly. Just a few minutes of exposure a day can lead to permanent hearing loss. If noises are moderately loud, and you’re unsure whether you need protection, wear it anyway. 

 

Sources:

http://elcosh.org/document/1331/d000452/hearing-loss-expected-by-carpenters,-but-study-finds-workers-fear-tinnitus-more.html

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3074.pdf

https://www.safestart.com/news/4-steps-preventing-hearing-loss-production-line

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