• Occupational Hearing: Protect Your Ears From Hearing Loss

    Occupational Hearing: Protect Your Ears From Hearing Loss

    Industrial workplace noises, gunfire, loud music, and other common, everyday sounds that are louder than 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss. Just how loud is 85 decibels? Take a look at these decibel ratings and permissible exposure times provided by NIOSH/CDC (the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

    Intensities of Common Sounds in Decibels

    Sounds Intensities Permissible exposure time
    City Traffic, inside the car 85 dB 8 hours
    Bull Dozer 88 dB 4 hours
    Jazz Concert 91 dB 2 hours
    Power Mower 94 dB 1 hour
    Night Club 97 dB 30 minutes
    Ambulance Siren, inside;
    Driver window down
    100 dB 15 minutes
    Rock Concert, Leaf Blower 115 dB 30 seconds
    Ambulance 125 dB
    Jet from 100 feet 135 dB
    Gun Shot 145 dB
    12-guage Shot Gun 165 dB

    For a complete listing of over 1700 noises and their corresponding decibel levels, check out the Noise Navigator at http://www.e-a-r.com/pdf/hearingcons/Noise_Nav.xls1

    Occupational Noise and Hearing Protection

    According to the NIOSH, approximately 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work, causing an estimated $242 million per year to be spent on worker’s compensation due to hearing loss disability. As a result NIOSH recommends “all worker exposures to noise be controlled below a level equivalent to 85 dBA for eight hours to minimize occupational noise induced hearing loss. NIOSH also recommends a 3 dBA exchange rate so that every increase by 3 dBA doubles the amount of the noise and halves the recommended amount of exposure time.” Additionally, NIOSH recommends a hearing loss prevention program that includes the use of hearing protection devices, periodic hearing tests and education for workers along with administrative controls that include accurate record keeping, evaluations and audits.

    Hunting Ear Protection

    Hunting requires one to have the ability to hear very soft sounds, while still protecting the ear from the peak noise levels of a shot gun blast. Fortunately, hunters have many options for protection. Not only can they choose from custom or over-the-counter ear plugs or ear muffs, they can also choose protection devices that provide amplification while reducing the sounds of gunfire down to a safe level.

    Ear Protection for Musicians

    Professional musicians work in a high decibel environment in which hearing loss, tinnitus, hyper-sensitivity to sound and sound distortion can result.

    Traditional earplugs will not work for the professional musician, as they reduce sound by muffling low-to-mid-range frequencies. Special musicians ear molds are available that can protect the musician’s ears from loud sounds without distorting what they hear. Many products are available that will even enhance the music experience.

    Benjamin Franklin got it right when he said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Just as you would take preventative measures to protect yourself from heart disease or diabetes, it pays to protect yourself from hearing loss.

    Recreational Shooters

    As many as 50 percent of all recreational shooters may suffer some degree of hearing loss. It is generally thought that loud noises in excess of 90 decibels are harmful to hearing over prolonged exposure. Most gunfire exceeds 130 decibels and requires reliable, quality hearing protection. Using ear protection can prevent needless and permanent damage to hearing.

    Electronic earplugs enhance the sounds around you. For example, you can hear game movement but also reduce impulse sounds such as gunfire, down to a safe level. This helps prevent damage to your hearing. Electronic earplugs are available in custom molds as well as standard, less expensive alternatives.

    Law Enforcement

    If you are involved in law enforcement you undoubtedly know how important your sense of hearing is to being effective on the job. You may also have experienced a situation where firing your weapon has temporarily reduced your ability to hear. And if it hasn’t already happened, there may be a future situation where your partner or a member of your team will be forced to fire their weapon in close proximity or in a confined area. The potential damage to your hearing could be severe and could result in irreversible hearing loss.

    Industrial Hearing Protection

    Loud, constant sounds all day long at work can cause long term hearing problems. Loud, sudden noises (gunfire, industrial noises, woodworking, motorcycles, loud music, motorized lawn equipment, noisy hobbies and other noises louder than 90 db) are more damaging to hearing than regular and extended exposure to loud sounds over a period of time. When properly fitted, earplugs can significantly reduce loud noises and prevent hearing damage and loss. Hearing protectors not properly fitted to the wearer’s ears do not effectively prevent damaging noises from penetrating the ear canal.

    1 The Noise Navigator was developed by Elliott Berger, MS, Senior Scientist with 3M Occupational Health and Environmental Safety Division.

    Leave a reply →

Leave a reply

Cancel reply