Occupational Hearing Hazards
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” was famously stated by the writer Annie Dillard. A huge portion of the U.S spends allot of our days working. The average American will spend about 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. When you consider the huge amount of time you spend day in day out at work, your job is likely to make a huge impact on your quality of life. If you work in a loud environment this could definitely affect your hearing. Some fields are more certain to bring on hearing loss unless you are very conscientious about hearing safety. The importance of hearing protection appears more important than ever when the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety projects that more than 20 million people in the U.S. will be subjected to damaging levels of noise on the job only this year.
The Dangers to Our Ears at Work
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four million workers go to work every day in an environment that can potentially expose them to harmful decibel levels, causing permanent damage. It’s not just the decibel level that is damaging but also the duration of decibel levels. Sounds at or below 70 dBA are generally considered safe while any sound at or above 85 dBA is likely to damage your hearing over time. Even if you are diligent about wearing hearing protection it just takes a loud blast at work at a high enough decibel to cause permanent damage.
There are many professions that expose people to dangerous levels of noise. While even a noisy office environment can soar about the safe listening level of 85 decibels for the duration of a work day there are some professions that put you at more risks that others. Below are some jobs that put you at the highest risk.
Factory Workers: Statistics have stated that as many as eight out of 10 of employee working in factories develop noise-related hearing loss. Sadly most job-related hearing loss develops within the first 10 years of employment in a factory setting. Unless the company requires hearing protection often people will not protect their ears on their own accord. Hearing loss develops slowly over time, meaning the majority of factory workers don’t realize how bad their hearing is getting and by the time they do, it’s already too late.
Construction: The tools used in construction almost always operate at a level well above the safe level of 85 decibels. It’s important to make sure that employers enforce strict policies around hearing loss in this industry to protect employee’s ears for years to come.
Entertainment/nightlife: When you are at a nightclub it is easy to ignore the damage that could be inflicted to your ears. If it’s just one night you might leave with your ears ringing. If you work in nightlife then it is far too easy to develop debilitating hearing loss. This industry includes DJs, musicians, bartenders, waiters and security and even sound technicians. Bass level of over 100 dB on a nightly basis must be taken seriously if you want to maintain healthy hearing.
Food Service: You might not expect it but people working in restaurants regularly are at risk for hearing damage. The slamming of pots and pans along with loud music and crowded rooms shift after shift can add up over time to a serious hearing issue.
Veterans: 60% of veterans return from combat zones and report hearing loss and tinnitus due to exposure to gunshots and explosions, which can soar 190 decibels.
Protect Your Hearing Now!
Noise induced hearing loss affects the inner ear, damaging the inner ear hair cells, which translate sound waves into signals your brain translates into sound. When harmful decibels damage these hairs cells they never come back. While your hearing will never return to its original condition hearing aids have been proven to make hearing with hearing damage much easier. It’s important to know how to protect your hearing now so you can hear in the future. Wear appropriate hearing protection whenever you are on the job whether it is earplugs or hearing protecting headphones. For the best protection custom-made earplugs will ensure that your hearing is at the least risk. Be diligent with your hearing protection today so you can hear your healthiest tomorrow.