Loss of hearing is a very common occurrence in America. Approximately 30 million Americans are affected by hearing loss, and 1/3 of those cases are noise induced (NIOSH). Also 50 million Americans also have tinnitus or ringing in the ears. This ringing is an early sign of noise related hearing loss. In 2008 around 2 million American workers were in working conditions that put them at risk for hearing loss. The most commonly affected group in 2007 was workers in the manufacturing sector (NIOSH).
Workers that are around loud machinery constantly are at a very high risk of losing their hearing. The highest amount of noise that and ear can be exposed to throughout an 8-hour workday is 85 dBA. When the noise level increases by 5 dBA the exposure time that a worker can handle is cut in half. When the average circular saw runs at 105 dBA it isn’t uncommon for workers using power tools all day to have issues with their hearing. This is why ear protection is so important to workers and their employers.
Hearing protectors come in five styles: muffs, foam, pre-molded, custom, and canal caps. Each type of hearing protectors has its advantages. One of the most common forms of ear protection, in the workplace, is the foam earplug. They are very inexpensive and very easy to use, but they aren’t good for daily use because they do not last for an extended period of time. Another option is using earmuffs. Earmuffs are better for jobs that require the user to remove their ear protection constantly because they are simple and quick. A few downsides are the fact that they cause sweating, and they can become uncomfortable after repetitive use or if the user wears glasses. When it comes to a comfortable fit the best option is to purchase ear molds. If someone uses ear protection everyday, and wants a comfortably fitting ear molds are a good match. They are easy to use, they last a long time, and they are adjustable for maximum noise insulation. The downside is that there is a fitting procedure required in order to make the ear molds, they need to be kept clean, and they must be tested every two year to make sure they are functioning properly. In the long fun ear molds can be worth the extra money.
With hearing loss being such a common issue in the workplace, it is important that all workers are using the correct hearing protection. Hearing loss is 100% preventable, and there is no excuse for a worker not to be using any sort of ear protection especially with all the option available to them.
Thank you for your time and attention. Let’s make it safe this Monday.
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company