When you think of a hazardous workplace, noise probably isn’t the first thing that springs to your mind – yet, dangerous noise levels are one of the most common workplace health issues. Noise exposure can contribute to permanent hearing loss and, in a vicious circle, hearing problems can limit your ability to perform your job safely and well.
On The Job Standards
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has job safety standards that include regulations for excessive noise. Jobsites that expose their workers to the sonic equivalent of 85 decibels for 8 hours –or greater noise levels- are required to provide adequate hearing protection. At the 85 dB threshold, permanent hearing damage occurs in the ears after a prolonged 8-hour exposure. At higher decibel levels, noise thresholds are much shorter. Sound at 105 dB becomes a hearing threat after just 15 minutes and sounds above 120 dB are damaging at any length of time.
It is estimated that around 22 million American workers work around dangerous levels of noise. If your workplace includes loud sounds, you’ll want to be sure you are wearing the appropriate protection. Some jobs require an advanced approach to sound management where environmental awareness is maximized while loud sounds are dampened to protect hearing. This may require protective equipment with specialized digital sound control.
If your workplace doesn’t provide adequate hearing protection, but you suspect you may be exposed to hazardous levels of noise, you have rights as a worker. A good first step is to measure the common noise levels at your job. You can turn most smart phones into decibel measuring devices with free apps that detect incoming sound levels. If you discover noise volume that presents a health issue, bring the problem up with your employer and request hearing protection. Failure on your employer’s part to provide hearing protection could result in penalties and fines.
When Your Hearing Changes At Work
Different metrics have been used to assess worker hearing and detect significant changes in hearing ability. Recently, various assessment methods have been reviewed including two guidelines put forth by OSHA and one by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Measuring threshold shifts in a patient’s hearing, NIOSH’s significant threshold shift guidelines are the most rigorous and adept at detecting significant job-related hearing loss in workers. OSHA’s standard threshold shift parameters place greater accountability on age and other factors occurring outside the workplace, making employers less accountable for hearing changes in their workers.
Performance And Income
Your hearing is a big deal and losing your ability to hear affects your whole life, including your ability to do your job. Having hearing loss at your place of work can damage your communication skills, your ability to understand important information and expose you to dangerous situations. Failure to adequately comprehend verbal information can lead to workplace misunderstandings and leaves you open to missing vital information about a project or procedure. The strain hearing loss creates also limits your ability to contribute to verbal planning.
Working with untreated hearing loss can put you in physical danger. With hearing loss it is harder to detect alarms and other warning noises. Sudden hazards may generate sounds that require quick comprehension in order to avoid an accident. Having a thorough spatial understanding also requires healthy hearing. Hearing loss may put you in harms way of vehicles and machinery you didn’t hear coming.
While hearing loss makes it more difficult for you to properly do your job, it also reduces your ability to earn. Studies have found that workers with hearing loss earn less than their counterparts with healthy hearing.
The Hearing Spa in Bradenton and Sarasota
Whether you’re on the job or out in the world, Hearing Spa of Florida can help you hear your best. Our comprehensive hearing exams include a risk assessment and can help detect and minimize your job’s impact on your hearing.
While most hearing loss is permanent, the great news is that effective treatment is available to you. Treating hearing loss at Hearing Spa can help preserve your earning power and help you navigate your workplace with aplomb. Stay on top of your job and your life with regular hearing exams, jobsite hearing protection and hearing health care you can trust at Hearing Spa of Florida.