The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) asserts that more than 20 million U.S. employees are regularly exposed to dangerous noise levels at work. Many people don’t realize that their everyday activities are putting them at risk for irreversible, noise-induced hearing loss. That’s why it’s vital for employees like you to have a clear understanding of potential noise hazards in the workplace.
Is Your Hearing at Risk?
To properly protect yourself on the job, it’s important to be aware of the noise levels that can cause hearing loss and take steps to either avoid or reduce these exposures. Consider the following key points:
- NIOSH states that workplace noise is likely to be hazardous if you have to raise your voice to talk to someone who is an arm’s length away, your ears are ringing or sounds seem dull after leaving a noisy place.
- Safety experts recommend wearing ear protection when you are regularly exposed to at least 85 decibels of noise. To put that number in perspective, this is less than the noise output from average traffic, most power tools, a shotgun blast or a concert.
With these points in mind, be sure to consistently wear personal protective equipment if you are exposed to noise hazards while working. Such protection may vary based on specific noise exposures. Whether it’s earmuffs or simple plugs, there are a variety of options.
Symptoms of Hearing Loss
- Hearing loss usually happens gradually and often goes unnoticed. Here are some clues that may indicate you are experiencing hearing loss:
- You strain to understand conversations.
- You think people are mumbling or not speaking clearly.
- You need to have things repeated frequently.
- You watch people’s faces intently when listening.
- You increase television or radio volumes to the point where others complain.
- You have ringing in your ears or feel dizzy.
If you have any of these symptoms, ask your doctor for a hearing test. Consult your supervisor for more information on protecting against potential noise hazards in the workplace.
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