Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a permanent condition. It happens when the hair cells in the inner ear are exposed to loud noise. This exposure damages the hair cells, leading to NIH, the most common work-related illness in the United States, affecting an estimated 22 million workers each year.
The five professions that are most affected by noise in the workplace are:
1. Construction workers - Exposed to loud noise from a variety of sources, including power tools, jackhammers, and heavy machinery.
2. Manufacturing workers - Exposed to loud noise from machines, such as presses and grinders.
3. Military personnel - Exposed to loud noise from gunfire, explosions, and other weapons.
4. Truck drivers - Exposed to loud noise from the engine, the wind, and other vehicles.
5. Musicians - Exposed to loud noise from instruments, such as drums and amplifiers.
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a risk that increases with the level and duration of noise exposure. For example, truck drivers, who spend a lot of time on the road in noisy environments, are more susceptible to hearing loss.
NIHL can cause a variety of problems, including:
- Difficulty hearing and understanding speech, especially in noisy environments
- Hearing high-pitched sounds
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Social isolation, depression, and anxiety
Many people don't notice their hearing loss because it happens gradually, and most of the time they don't take action to improve their hearing soon enough. Unfortunately, hearing loss is a serious, irreversible condition which can have a profound effect on a person's quality of life. However, there are steps that can be taken to prevent it, such as:
- Wearing hearing protection
- Reducing noise levels in the workplace
- Get your hearing tested regularly
- Take breaks from noise exposure
If you are concerned about your hearing, talk to an Audiologist and have a discussion with your employer immediately. They can test your hearing and recommend steps to help you protect your hearing.
Did you know?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has regulations in place to protect workers from noise-induced hearing loss. These regulations require employers to implement a hearing conservation program if their employees are exposed to noise at or above 85 decibels averaged over an 8-hour period.
A hearing conservation program must include the following elements:
- Noise monitoring: Employers must measure noise levels in the workplace to identify employees who are exposed to hazardous noise levels.
- Audiometric testing: Employers must provide free annual hearing tests to all employees who are exposed to hazardous noise levels.
- Hearing protection: Employers must provide free hearing protection to all employees who are exposed to hazardous noise levels.
- Preventative Training: Employers must provide training to their employees. This training should cover the risks of noise-induced hearing loss. It should also explain how to protect hearing.
Employers and OSHA Requirement
By following OSHA regulations, employers can help to ensure that their employees are safe from this serious health hazard.
- OSHA requires employers to create a hearing conservation program within 6 months of recognizing hazardous noise levels.
- The hearing conservation program must be in writing and must be reviewed and updated annually.
- Employers must keep records of noise monitoring, audiometric testing, and hearing protection use.
- Employees have the right to take part in the hearing conservation program. They can also ask for a copy of the program whenever they need it.
Does your business need help setting up your hearing compliance program to protect the hearing health of your employees?
e3 Occupational Health Solutions is the only full-service equipment distributor in the U.S. We provide equipment for safety and compliance programs, including hearing screening, vision screening, pulmonary function, and breath alcohol testing.
We offer a single point of contact to large employers with multiple locations. This makes it easier to execute programs consistently and efficiently across all U.S. locations.
What we do:
Our experts will help you map, interpret, and recommend an employee health program that is best for your business so you can confidently meet OSHA requirements.
- Create & Manage your Program
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We offer educational development courses near you. This ensures your staff meets regulatory training standards. It also helps them stay aware of current testing best practices.
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