3 Steps You Can Take To Prevent Hearing Loss Working In Loud Environments

  • ENT
  • otolaryngology
  • April 11, 2022

Prevent hearing loss in the loud workplace by following safety standards, reducing noise exposure, and prioritizing eardrums.

Protect Your 5 Senses

Sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing: each of the 5 senses adds a layer of nuance to the human experience and quality to daily life. Research notes that noises above 85dB can cause significant hearing loss. While most working professionals can avoid eardrum damage, firefighters, public transit operators, construction workers, and military members are only a few of the service populations who risk hearing loss working in loud environments. From mines to factories, shouting over noise daily is a definite risk of reduced hearing function later in life. To minimize damage to the eardrums in the workplace adhering to baseline safety standards, reducing noise exposure, and ensuring protection from potentially harmful chemicals.

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Standards for your safety

To lower the risk of on-the-job hearing damage, State and federal regulators have created workplace safety rules, such as hearing protection and conservation. Some safety standards to look for in the workplace emphasize 5 main steps to protect auditory ability comprehensively. Programs must measure sound levels and decide what protection workers need. All employees in the program must have a hearing test and receive hearing protection training every year. Furthermore, all employees must get the hearing protection needed to perform work safely. Finally, companies are required to keep records about sound levels, hearing tests, training, and more. By maintaining rules to prioritize employee hearing, the service workforce stays healthy and functional.

When in doubt, shut it out

An estimated 22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. Many physicians recommend reducing noise exposure as much as possible with a diverse set of strategies to minimize hearing damage. If noisy activity is expected throughout the day, taking breaks helps lower stress to the eardrums. Whenever possible, maximize distance from the source of the noise. Always wear hearing protection in noisy areas, and if using foam plugs, insert them correctly.

Breathe in, breathe out

Exposure to specific chemicals, known as ototoxicants, may cause hearing loss or even balance problems, regardless of the level of noise exposure. Substances including certain pesticides, solvents, and pharmaceuticals containing ototoxicants can damage the ear’s functions, causing hearing loss and affecting balance. When combined with elevated noise levels, substances can damage the eardrums. Specific hearing impairment brought on by chemicals and noise can be temporary or permanent. Since workplace hearing damage disproportionally impacts public services such as community safety, reducing exposure creates a ripple effect that makes the general public safer.

Don’t put yourself at risk

While hearing loss is an eventual part of life, workers in noisy environments can minimize premature deafness with relatively simple strategies. Adhering to standardized safety rules, lowering noise exposure, and wearing protection from harmful chemicals limit damage to eardrums over a prolonged period. Hearing loss at work is preventable if the employee is dedicated to protection and prevention.

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