How Employees Can Protect Their Hearing at Work

From music shows to busy factories and even the everyday office, noise levels can reach potentially dangerous levels if managers and employees are not careful. Noise that exceeds 85 decibels is considered hazardous to ear health, and long-term exposure to this amount of noise can harm ears permanently. 

It is the responsibility of supervisors and employees alike to understand how to best protect their hearing at work and avoid common hearing loss problems such as tinnitus or even long-term issues that can affect their work and day-to-day lifestyle. Here, you will find a thorough outline of the best ways for employees to protect their hearing. 

Ear Safety Training 

Ear safety training is one of the most effective ways to ensure employees keep their ears safe while at work. This should be carried out before they start work during their health and safety classes, but also implemented regularly to ensure they do not become complacent or ignore procedures. 

Businesses and organizations can work with a qualified audiologist to provide detailed information to help employees understand the importance of protecting their ears. While they may know to avoid loud noises, other factors can contribute to hearing loss. Learning the best practices to avoid these issues will benefit all employees. 

Workplace Signage 

Safety signage is common in all professions, whether in a traditionally loud environment or one considered quiet most of the time. Regardless of the type of business, you can use signage to remind employees to wear ear protection when working in loud environments. For some, this could be at all times, while other employees, especially those at retail stores, may only encounter excessive noise when outside or packing recycling into compactors. 

Set these signs up around the workplace and make sure they are easily visible to ensure everyone is always aware of the procedures required to protect their hearing at work. 

Provide Hearing Protection 

If you operate in a typically loud environment, such as a factory or an airport, you can encourage employees to invest in hearing protection to keep their hearing safe from the high decibel levels they will encounter. 

Ideally, companies should provide this hearing protection as standard with the rest of the uniform in the same way they would provide high-vis jackets, work gloves or work boots. Even if employees are happy to purchase hearing protection – whether earplugs or ear defenders – themselves, the company should have a collection of emergency protective equipment for visitors or in case an employee forgets or misplaces their usual set. 

Limit Exposure 

Companies should outline policies that limit too much exposure to dangerous noise levels. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that employees can safely endure up to eight hours of noise at 85-90 decibels. However, regular exposure could cause problems if the proper protective measures are not met. 

Louder this amount of time is drastically reduced with higher decibel levels. At 120 decibels, employees should only be exposed to two hours at most. The company can also implement policies that allow employees enough time to recover between shifts, especially if they feel a ringing in their ears after working

Noise Monitoring 

It can often be challenging to know precisely how much noise is being generated at the workplace. To overcome this, employers can use noise monitoring equipment highlighting the current noise level. 

The employer can use decibel readers to show how much noise is generated and mitigate possible damage should the noise reach dangerous levels. For factories and airports, this noise level could be continuous. So, finding solutions to protect employees is crucial.  

Low Volume Music 

Even typically quiet environments can generate dangerous noise levels, whether caused by the entire office or classroom, such as chatter or even on an individual level. If employees wear headphones or earbuds to listen to music, employers can encourage them to lower the volume. This is especially important if used all day, as it can contribute to hearing loss in the future. 

General office chatter is difficult to manage, but employers can consider designated spaces to reduce all-day noise or even invest in sound-dampening fixtures and accessories to prevent too much acoustic vibration. 

Get In Touch Today 

Loud noises are not confined to factories or airfields. There are many environments where excessive noise levels could damage employee hearing and impact their health and wellbeing. If you feel like you have been exposed to loud noises for too long and this is beginning to affect your hearing, get in touch with our team today to learn more about Natural Hearing Centers by calling our office at (888) 221-9156.