How Employees Can Protect Their Hearing at Work

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Safety in the workplace is one of the most crucial parts of being a professional. But, when someone discusses workplace safety, they usually refer to trip hazards or occupational dangers that can vary depending on the nature of your work. 

One hazard that is rarely considered is your hearing, yet this can affect everyone, no matter what they do. As many jobs, especially those in factory or construction settings, include exposure to loud noise levels, you must know how employees can protect their hearing at work. 

Wear Ear Protection 

Hearing protection is a standard requirement in many workplace environments, including airports and factory settings. However, other workplaces, including construction, may not have regulations regarding this and as such, some employees may experience hearing loss or hearing damage. 

Protecting your ears with earplugs or ear defenders will act as the first line of defense against excessive noise caused by machinery or power tools. Team leaders can make this a compulsory requirement to protect employee hearing and eliminate the risk of hearing damage caused by continuous exposure to dangerous noise levels. 

Keep Away from Loud Noises 

Avoiding loud noises is another effective means of protecting hearing while at work. If employees stay off the main floor where the machines or tools are operating, they will vastly reduce the possibility of experiencing hearing loss caused by the continued exposure. 

However, this is not always possible as some employees are required to work with loud machinery, tools or other equipment throughout the day. They can mitigate this by wearing hearing protection, but even this may not be enough. Companies can identify workplaces that provide adequate space for equipment while still allowing employees to stay away when required. If the workplace is too cramped, the risk of hearing loss is increased.  

Allow for Adequate Rest Periods 

Allowing for adequate rest periods will vastly reduce the risks of hearing loss as it will give employees’ ears time to recover from 85-decibel-plus exposure. An audiologist and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would recommend that workers should only be exposed to around 85 decibels for eight hours. For 120 decibels, this length of time is reduced to just two hours per day. 

Because of this, it can be beneficial for employees to enjoy rest periods between high decibel exposure. Therefore, enable several days of rest following such exposure, even with ear protection, will go a long way towards protecting their hearing. This allows mild tinnitus to settle without causing permanent hearing loss that could impact their health and performance while at work. 

Comply with Legal Noise Limits 

Employers should make sure to comply with legal noise limits to reduce the risk of hearing loss for employees. As mentioned above, organizations must enable employees to take a sufficient break between noise exposure and never let them work shifts that exceed eight hours for decibel readings between 85 and 90 decibels. 

The organization can check these noise levels by using noise meter readings and encourage the supervisor to monitor this regularly. If there are any instances where the noise level exceeds safe levels, employees must follow correct procedures to limit exposure. While several minutes of dangerous noise levels will not cause much long-term damage, continuously high levels should be avoided. 

Another way to avoid this is by investing in sound-dampening equipment for the machinery or vehicles. This can be achieved by upgrading to the latest models or repairing and maintaining older machinery to ensure they do not reach hazardous noise levels. Regular surveillance and checking will help make this possible. 

Take Part in Safety Training

All new employees must go through health and safety training to familiarize themselves with the correct procedures for protecting their hearing. However, this initial training is often not enough to ensure full comprehension. 

Regular retraining will prevent employees from becoming lax or complacent regarding their hearing protection as it reminds them of any policies they may have forgotten or missed during the original training sessions. Furthermore, signage set up around the workplace, whether the factory, airfield or another environment, will ensure that everyone remembers the correct procedure for protecting hearing and minimize the risk of experiencing hearing damage. 

Learn More Today 

It is the responsibility of the manager and the employee to protect their hearing while at work. If you believe you have experienced hearing loss because of your working environment and want to find out more, get in touch with the Audiology & Hearing Center of Tampa today. You can contact our office in Westchase at 813-962-1888 or our Tampa Palms location at 813-374-3036.