Noise Induced Hearing loss- or NIHL Hearing, as with any other body part, will over time beging to wear out, from over use, over exposure and aging.
Despite industry and government regulation, hearing loss caused by exposure to noise is a growing problem. And regulations in the construction industry pertaining to hearing are relatively low. So there are in fact limited guidelines in place for NIHL in the industry.
NIHL is cumulative and gradual, so a safer quiter work site means that hearing will stay better for longer. The basics are that the closer and longer you are exposed to loud noises, and of course the louder the noise, the more damage that is likely to occur. Surprisingly, some solutions to the problem can be really simple, and bought from you local hardware store.
So what can we do to lesson noise induced hearing loss? Here are some ideas.
The recommendation from OSHA, the occupational safety and health agency, is that ear protection should be worn when sound level reaches 85dB, but many think that is too loud. In a construction environment there are many noisy pieces of equipment, the whole place is loud, so companies should be providing workers with adequate hearing protection.
Historically workers have sometimes been wary of ear plugs and protectors because of the need to communicate and hearing danger calls or heavy equipment approaching. But today’s hearing protection is advanced enough that it protects and cancels out dangerous background noises, but will allow the user to hear a face to face conversation.
These are known as hear-through protection, and are ideal for busy construction environments, as well as other general working situations, such as printing, engineering, roofing, carpentry, even for instance in a local carpet cleaning business, where the operator is exposed to a lower level of noise, but that noise is constant for most of the day, and is usually enclosed in a small room, so the effect is cumulative
Noise protection like this is not inexpensive, and usually costs around $60, but how do you put a price on your hearing. Damage can be prevented. If you are being exposed to loud noises over long periods, whether it is around machinery or maybe close to traffic, always wear protection. You as an operator needs to be pro active and look after your own hearing.
Control the Noise
In many cases, noise can be limited quite easily, by adding mufflers to equipment, only using noise reducing saws and saw blades. Try to build simple but effective barriers to isolate noisy generators and machinery, just a large piece of plywood works as an effective noise barrier, keeping workers away from the danger. The damage to hearing over time can be reduced dramatically just by taking these simple steps.
What is a preventable disease will be a heavy burden to the construction industry if not addressed properly and promptly. So the best advice is to take steps to safeguard your own hearing by buying the appropriate protection, whether you work in a factory or mow lawns for a living, speak with a hearing professional who will be happy to show you the best equipment available to keep your hearing safer for longer. Regardless of how loud it becomes in your workplace.