Protecting Your Team’s Hearing
Exposure to noise and certain chemicals in the workplace can damage hearing. Hearing loss is one of the most common workplace illnesses and it is permanent.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), every industry has a hearing risk and 22 million US workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work each year. In the United States, hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical health condition in adults next to high blood pressure and arthritis. Nearly every industry that has a risk to hearing also has a method of protecting their employees’ hearing.
How loud is too loud?
Noise is considered loud and hazardous when it reaches 85 A-weighted decibels or higher. Hazardous noise can cause hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ear).
How to control hearing hazards
According to NIOSH, “Employers and health and safety professionals can measure noise, implement noise controls, and establish hearing loss prevention programs.”
NIOSH recommends several procedures to implement in order to control noise exposure and potential hearing loss in the workplace.
- Understand Noise Exposure- use sound meters to see where the noise is coming from and if it has reached dangerous levels.
- Eliminate or Reduce Noise- can machines be repaired or new equipment used to eliminate the noise exposure?
- Implement Engineering Controls- Can equipment be modified or can changes be made to the environment to reduce noise level around teammates?
- Employ Administrative Controls- Is it possible to change the shifts teammates work or their physical distance to the noise source for their protection?
- Provide Hearing Protection- provide ample hearing protection and make sure it fits and is used consistently.
- (Re)Evaluate and Record- with new procedures in place, evaluate and/or reevaluate the noise and hearing hazards around teammates.
Finally, NIOSH also recommends “workers should have a yearly hearing test if exposed to hazardous noise or ototoxic chemicals.” Physicians who practice occupational medicine are uniquely skilled to handle concerns in the workplace and perform hearing tests and workplace evaluations. These types of hazards to teams in the workplace are one of their specialties. If you notice noise exposure in the workplace or have concerns like this, call, click, or select “contact us” to put our team’s expertise to work.
Who is Jet Medical Center®?
Jet Medical Center® is a leading provider of occupational medicine services in the Tallahassee area. We develop, with our client partners, a customized healthcare plan to fit your company’s needs today and into the future.
Our experienced staff of clinicians provides excellent medical care and understands the Worker’s Compensation system and its impact on your company’s financial health. Your employees will have less downtime with less complications reducing overall medical costs.