Exposure to loud noise for a prolonged period of time can have a great impact on workers safety and health. Oftentimes, noise is not a hazard that is viewed as a great concern. Since hearing loss tends to happens gradually and is not always an obvious problem, many individuals tend to ignore the early warning signs. However, untreated hearing loss worsens over time and can lead to greater health problems down the road. In the construction industry, workers are exposed to loud and damaging noises on a daily basis. Protecting workers hearing health and safety is our top priority — follow these tips and suggestions to reduce exposure to dangerous noise on the job site.
How Loud is Too Loud?
First and foremost, it’s important to get a general sense of what noises are too loud. Sound is measured in units known as decibels (dB). The decibel scale ranges 0 dB (complete silence) to 140 dB (threshold for pain). It’s very important to note that listening to sounds over 85 dB for a prolonged period of time can severely damage one’s hearing.
Permanent hearing loss can never be repaired, so it’s important to be educated on the noise levels that cause damage. Construction workers are at a higher risk because sounds they are regularly exposed to are above the 85 dB level. Consider the following construction noises in comparison to how loud they rank on a decibel scale.
- Hammer Drill: 120 dB
- Bulldozer : 100 dB
- Crane: 90dB
These numbers are just a point of reference. Each tool can produce a range of noise levels depending on the situation and job at hand. However, the important thing to know is that these tools produce very loud sounds and if a workers is not wearing protection, it can be very damaging to their hearing.
This leads us to possibly the most important tip of all : Workers should always be wearing hearing protection when operating with loud equipment at a construction site. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) 31% of workers report not wearing hearing protection. The decision to wear hearing protection can make a tremendous impact when it comes to protecting your ears from damaging sounds. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you will be fine without it. Risking the chance of permanent hearing loss is certainly not worth it — especially when it could have been so easily prevented.
Schedule Regular Hearing Tests
It’s important to schedule hearing tests regularly. It’s especially necessary to seek out treatment when you notice early sings of hearing loss. Five warning signs to look out for that will indicate you may be experiencing hearing loss include the following:
- Asking others to repeat what they said
- Frequently saying what
- Turning the TV or radio up to a loud level
- Experiencing Tinnitus – otherwise known as ringing in the ears
- Struggling to follow conversations when there is background noise
All of the following are just some examples of early warning sings of hearing loss. If you are experiencing any of these, schedule a hearing test with an audiologist as soon as possible. The longer you procrastinate and ignore it, the worse your problem can get. Audiologists are experts and can help test for hearing loss and provide treatment best suited for you.
Limit Noise Exposure
If you’re working at a loud construction sight for a prolonged period of time, its important that you are taking breaks. This will help limit your exposure to damaging sounds. Another way to limit noise expose is the use of sound barriers. Sound barriers help to absorb and reflect sound, which reduces noise level. These are highly effective when it comes to protecting the hearing health of construction workers on site.
Plan Ahead of Time
Planning for potential noise exposure before a project starts is an effective way to reduce exposure to hazardous noise. In addition, training and educating workers on the dangers of exposure to loud noises is essential. Construction workers should participate in regular trainings and listen attentively in safety meetings. This way, workers can discuss methods and approaches to limit dangerous exposure of noise.
At Frontier Industrial Corp., we put the safety of our workers first. Educating and training workers on how to protect themselves from dangerous exposure to noise will help ensure their safety and prevent hearing loss and hearing health problems down the line.
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