On the Job Noise
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that annually, approximately 30 million people are exposed to hazardous noise at their jobs. OSHA also reports that noise-related hearing loss “has been listed as one of the most prevalent occupational health concerns in the US for more than 25 years” and that every year, “thousands of workers suffer from preventable hearing loss due to high workplace noise levels.”
Noise-induced hearing loss is permanent, though it can be treated with hearing aids. Long-term exposure to dangerous levels of sound in the work place causes not only hearing loss, but also stress, reduced productivity, and may also lead to workplace accidents and injuries.
Outside of the workplace, hearing loss takes a toll on many areas of one’s life, affecting social interaction and leisure activities, and increasing the risk of depression and dementia.
Many occupations lead to noise-induced hearing loss. Here, we explore four jobs.
It’s not just the terrified cries of patients that cause damage to a dentist’s ears. The whirring of tools and drills used in dental work has a very high-frequency. Dentists and dental assistances treat numerous patients a day and are situated in very close proximity to the machine sounds. Custom ear protection will help to prevent hearing loss.
Construction workers are exposed to a variety of loud noises throughout the workday, from drilling to hammering to sawing. Machinery and trucks also contribute to the hazardous sounds on a construction site. For the most part, construction workers are well equipped with safety gear – helmets, eyewear, bright colored clothing. Though some construction workers prefer not to wear ear protection in order to hear warning calls from their colleagues, most custom ear protection is designed to let in sounds we want to hear while filtering out the dangerous levels.
Factory workers of all stripes are exposed to machine sounds for eight hours a day – sometimes more. After a while, these sounds become a part of the background, just white noise. A survey in 2012 showed that although 75% of factory workers believed their hearing was normal, hearing tests revealed that 42% of them had some degree of hearing loss. Custom hear protection would undoubtedly help prevent such a high rate of hearing loss.
Nursery School Teacher
This occupation may come as a surprise, but imagine being surrounded by children for most of your work day! In 2005, the National Center for Work Environment Research in Denmark conducted a study of nursery school teachers. Of the sample population, 80% of teachers reported exposure to loud noise during the workday. Nursery school teachers have reported cases of tinnitus and hearing loss. In addition to custom ear protection for teachers, nursery schools have been designing their classrooms for maximum acoustic comfort.
If your ears are ringing or humming when you leave work, if you have to shout to be heard by a coworker in close proximity, and if you experience tinnitus, you may be exposed to dangerous levels of noise at your job. Though OSHA has set legal limits that must be adhered to by employers, there are instances where they do not. OSHA limits exposure of eight hours to no more than 90 decibels a day. Raising awareness with your coworkers and discussing custom ear protection with your employers is crucial to your hearing health.