When you think of safety in the workplace you probably envision a person in a dangerous job such as a firefighter or a police officer. However, there are millions of people who put themselves in harm’s way every day working in jobs that expose them to excessive noise.
Protecting Your Hearing in the Workplace
You go to work daily and don’t give a second thought to your exposure to loud noise that is until, you start to lose your hearing or experience what seems to be tinnitus, a constant humming, buzzing or ringing, internally. This is a common scenario that unfortunately affects millions of people yearly. The bad news is that hearing loss is irreversible. You can wear hearing aids but they won’t offer the same clarity of sound. However, if you have ringing in the ear, tinnitus relief options are available.
Jobs that Put You at the Highest Risk
There are many jobs that have a high level of noise. However, there are some that can impose the highest risk for a loss of hearing. Construction and demolition sites, factories, pressrooms, concert halls and nightclubs, airports, and even school classrooms are all environments where loud noise is constantly present. While these are the most likely to cause hearing loss, there are other ways that any person of any age can experience either a temporary or permanent loss. These include listening to music at levels above recommended listening limits, taking a woodworking shop, performing lawn care with things like a leaf blower, weed whacker and lawnmower.
Understanding the Ear
Once you lose nerve endings located in the inner ear, they are gone. Unlike other parts of the body that heal or repair themselves, to date, there is no way to restore the hearing, not with surgery or medication. In these types of loud excessive noise workplaces, leaving your ears unprotected at noise levels above 85 decibels puts you at risk for permanent loss. You can still experience a loss of hearing even if you’re only exposed for short intervals or on occasion. However, you are more than likely to sustain a loss of hearing permanently through constant exposure. This is because when the sound reaches over 85 decibels it begins to damage the inner ear mechanics, its sensitive structures leading to NIHL, Noise-Induced Hearing Loss.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss can turn your world upside down. Unlike a slight gradual hearing loss due to old age, this type is quick and swift. It removes certain sounds that you once enjoyed, more specifically, the high frequencies. This can create awkward situations during conversations while conversing with others or make it difficult to enjoy watching television or talking on the telephone.
Taking Precautionary Measures
The good news is that acquiring NIHL is preventable. Protective equipment such as ear plugs and ear muffs can reduce your exposure to within the acceptable limits: fewer than 75 decibels. Purchasing a high-quality headset or plugs is something to seriously consider to preserve the hearing you have. Ultimately, it’s up to you to do everything possible to ensure your ears remain protected.