Hearing damage and loss are various serious threats in a number of industries, especially in service industries like construction and manufacturing. Exposure to noise hazards in the workplace is dangerous whether this is continuous exposure to noise and/or exposure to loud noises that can cause hearing damage.
This is an issue that employers need to take very seriously, especially when hearing damage is often irreversible and can lead to other issues, including depression and cognitive decline. So, what can be done to eliminate or reduce noise hazards in the workplace?
First, you need to identify the noise hazards in your workplace. Hazards can be defined as sounds that workers are exposed to exceed 85 decibels over an 8-hour shift. Often, noise hazards are easy to identify, particularly things like loud machinery.
You should ask staff if they ever have trouble hearing others when in conversation with someone at arm’s difference as this indicates a noise hazard. It is also important to ask them if they ever have difficulty hearing and/or leave work with a ringing in their ears.
One of the most important steps to reduce the risk of hearing damage/loss is providing PPE for staff. Earplugs and ear defenders can help to protect staff from noise hazards and should be easily available, especially to those that operate loud equipment/machinery.
Low-level noise hazards are often the result of tools, equipment, and machinery that has not been properly maintained. This is particularly true when the metal-on-metal contact occurs and can usually be solved with regular maintenance – this can also help to improve performance and increase the lifespan of the equipment.
Another important step to consider is exposure as often the damage occurs not due to how loud a sound is but the amount of time exposed to it. This is why you need to consider this when working out shifts as well as educate staff on the importance of taking a break often when they are being exposed to a noise hazard.
Use Hearing Care Specialists
If you or your staff ever have trouble with hearing damage, it is important to seek out a hearing care specialist. There are often solutions available that can help people with their hearing and it is important to act quickly to prevent further damage.
It is important to take noise hazards in the workplace seriously, particularly those that operate in service industries. Hearing damage can change lives in more ways than one, but there are always ways to protect staff and prevent this from happening.