One of the most valuable assets in the workplace is your hearing. Working in a noisy environment can be annoying and stressful, but more importantly it has long-term consequences on your hearing. About 22 million workers a year are exposed to daily noise that could lead to hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss has become the most common workplace injury in the United States according to the CDC.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA uses an outreach program to measure noise in the workplace and help companies educate workers about protecting their hearing. The risk of hearing loss is significantly reduced when earplugs or other ear protection is worn. The trouble is, ear protection safety regulations are often ignored.
Noises that measure over 85 dB are considered dangerous to hearing if sustained for certain lengths of time. However, many of the necessary tools in the noisy jobs below measure well over that value.
These are jobs that cause hearing loss more frequently than others:
Construction workers surround themselves with a variety of loud noises on the job site. The loudest usually coming from the hammer drill, which reaches about 120 dB. Followed closely by chain saws, chop saws, miter saws and impact wrenches. By age 50 approximately 60 percent of worker in this industry will suffer from hearing loss.
A study by the Deafness Research Foundation found 65 percent of U.S. troops returning from combat suffered hearing loss or acoustic trauma. Troops are given regulation ear protection. However, the unpredictability of the onset and duration of noise can make it difficult to combat.
In the manufacturing field, workers spend 8 hours a day near very large, very loud machinery. As one of the largest industries in the U.S. it is no surprise. 1 in 9 people in manufacturing report suffering from hearing loss. A study in Michigan reveals that more than half of all cases of permanent workplace hearing loss are caused by the manufacturing sector.
From feeding the pigs to running the combine and skid loader farmers are at risk of exposing themselves to sounds reaching 105 dB. Studies have found that an added trouble for the ears of farmers is the fact that they have been exposed to these noises since childhood.
The folks on the ground outside the plane directing traffic and loading and unloading the aircraft put their ears at serious risk everyday. The noise outside of a jet engine reaches 140 dB. Minutes of exposure to that kind of noise without hearing protection will cause immediate pain in the ears. That is why you see airport personnel wearing large colorful earmuffs to block out as much of that noise as possible. Even with protection exposure to the noise needs to be limited.
If you’ve ever covered your ears to the sound of a passing siren, imagine sitting in the rig. Firefighters deal with the sound of the siren blaring for several minutes when heading to a call. Aside from the siren, firefighters are also exposed to the sound of high intensity water pumps.
Southwestern Hearing Centers offers customer molded hearing protection to help combat workplace hearing loss. Workers in jobs that cause hearing loss may also be looking for options that protect their hearing from dangerous noise, but still allow them to hear and communicate. Advances in technology have introduced a variety of hearing protection options, contact your Southwestern Hearing Specialist today for more details.