Hearing loss happens slowly through years of exposure to loud noises. Here are some ways to help prevent noise hazards.
Safety professionals spend considerable effort to identify and mitigate hazards from sharp edges, machine operations and falls. Workers are encouraged to shift their focus to noise hazards during the month of October.
Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) standards require employers to implement a hearing conservation program when noise exposure is at or above 85 decibels averaged over 8 working hours, or an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) (1910.95).
At least 10 million adults (6 percent) in the U.S. under age 70-and as many as 40 million adults (24 percent)-have features of their hearing test that suggest hearing loss in one or both ears from exposure to loud noise. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), and a 2011-2012 study conducted by the CDC.
The first challenge of combatting Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is identifying when a noise hazard exists. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) offers a free sound level meter app to allow employers and their worker to make informed decisions about the noise hazards they face. The NIDCD recommends three steps to reduce the risk of hearing damage.
Lower the volume.
Move away from the noise.
Wear hearing protectors, such as earplugs or protective earmuffs.
As part of an effective hearing conservation program, employers must communicate the existence of noise hazards and provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to those exposed to the noise. Since workers seldom have the option to reduce the volume of equipment or to move further from the noise hazard, use of PPE is the best choice to protect your hearing.
Improve your hazard identification and communication strategy by downloading a free guide to OSHA Safety Signs.