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Your Hearing: Keep it for a Lifetime

Most of us go through life taking our senses for granted. Like touching, tasting, smelling, and seeing; hearing is something we do automatically, without giving it much thought. But when something goes wrong with any of our senses, including our hearing, we expect that medical science has a miracle to offer. Unfortunately, medicine offers only moderate improvement for people with hearing loss. Hearing loss cannot be restored for most people. Lots of people suffer some degree of hearing loss. Farmers, construction workers, people exposed to constant loud noise on the job, whether at home or through their hobbies (even fans of loud music!), have at least one thing in common. They are at risk of permanent hearing loss. This Safety First Topic looks at hearing loss and how it can be prevented.

Exposure to normal noise levels doesn`t cause hearing loss. Hearing loss occurs because of overexposure to high noise levels. Noise is measured in units called "decibels." The higher the decibel, the louder the noise. To help you see the difference in the decibel scale, look at these examples of various noise levels:

  • 20 - decibels soft whisper

  • 30 - leaves rustling, very soft music

  • 60 - normal speech, background music

  • 85 - heavy machinery with soundproof cab

  • 90 - lawnmower, shop tools

  • 100 - heavy machinery without soundproof cab, motorcycles

  • 115 - loud music, sand blasting

  • 140 - jet engine, shotgun

In the workplace, hearing protection must be used to reduce noise exposure for any one who is generally exposed to 90 decibels or more over the course of their workday. Hearing protection may be used at lower levels, particularly for people who are very close to the 90 decibel exposure level. Sounds above 120 decibels can cause hearing damage after only a brief exposure and should be avoided unless hearing protection is worn.

Speaking of hearing protection, you`ve probably seen lots of different types. Keep in mind that not every type of hearing protection is good for every type of noise. Disposable foam earplugs may be fine for some noise exposure. Earmuff-type protection may be suitable for another.

It is the employer`s responsibility to assess noise exposures and provide appropriate hearing protection as needed for everyone in the workplace. It is the worker`s responsibility to use the protection consistently and correctly. Hearing protection is no use if it`s not worn.

Keep in mind that equipment operators aren`t the only ones who may need protection. Other people who work nearby may be exposed to too much noise, too. If you work in a noisy area-even if you`re not the one making the noise-be aware of the hazard and use protection.

Another thing that might cause unnecessary noise exposure is poorly-maintained equipment. Keeping equipment properly lubricated and in good condition helps keep down the noise. If you become aware of noisy equipment that hasn`t been noisy before, report the condition so proper hearing protection can be provided until necessary repairs are made.

Away from the workplace hearing protection is your total responsibility. Don`t risk your hearing for the sake of a hobby. Keep the music at a reasonable level. It may be hard to admit, but if other people tell you your stereo is too loud, it probably is! If you ride a motorcycle or another noisy vehicle, protect your hearing. In your workshop, use hearing protection that`s appropriate to protect against the noise.

Think of those sounds you take for granted and imagine life without them. Don`t let unnecessary exposure to noise take them away. You can do something to help protect your hearing. Take the time to know what protection to use and use it faithfully. Your hearing can last a lifetime with a few common-sense precautions.

  Other Articles:  
  Our Safety Program  
  Welcome to the Simplex Safety First Program. These Safety First Topics are free to be used as you see fit to promote a safe workplace. Most companies will hold their Safety First Meetings each Friday or on payday. Normally, copies are made of the topic and passed out to those attending the meeting. The person presenting reads the topic aloud while the others follow along. Following the reading of the topic there is an open discussion on the topic. Close attention is paid as to how that week’s topic applies to the job site. Also encouraged are discussions regarding safety concerns and safety items of interest. Click on the link above for complete details.  
  Your Hearing: Keep it for a Lifetime  
  This Safety First Topic looks at hearing loss and how it can be prevented.  
  Working Together  
  This Safety First Program describes the effectiveness of working together with your company and fellow employees in ensuring a safe working environment.  
  Work Clothes and Safety  
  This Safety First Topic explains the importance that clothes are workers personal protection. If the clothes are not worn properly, it can affect your safety.  
  Why Prevent Accidents ?  
  This Safety First Topic strongly discusses the importance to prevent accidents in the work place.  
  What You Can Do to Prevent Cold Stress Injuries  
  This Safety First Topic discusses what you can do to protect yourself from cold stress injuries. Remember, it doesn`t have to be freezing for cold stress to occur.  
  Using Portable Electric-Powered Tools Safely  
  This Safety First Topic discusses specific OSHA guidelines to help tool users recognize the hazards associated with the different types of tools and the safety precautions necessary to prevent those hazards.  
  Understanding Safety Signs  
  This Safety First Topic takes a look at different types of signs; what they mean, and how they should be used.  
  Safety and Saving Time  
  This Safety First Topic discusses ways to ensure that time is utilized to its best, and you will make the job easier, smoother, quicker, and safer.  
  Protecting Your Eyes  
  This Safety First Topic deals with protecting your eyes at the worksite.  
  Protect Your Hands  
  This Safety First Topic deals with protecting your hands at the worksite.  
  Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls  
  This Safety First Topic discusses what can be done to prevent slips, trips and falls. Most of the suggestions in this article can be used on the job and at home.  
  Preventing Heat Stress  
  This Safety First Topic discusses ways to prevent heat stress and how to recognize the symptoms of a number of heat-stress conditions.  
  This Safety First Topic takes a look at the content of an MSDS and provides some other important information for using an MSDS.  
  Look and Live  
  This Safety First Topic deals with paying attention and "looking" which is the most important and basic principle of accident prevention.  
  Industrial Ergonomics  
  This Safety First Topic has discussed the symptoms and causes of injuries caused by poor ergonomics.  
  How to use a jack properly  
  This Safety First Topic deals with one of the easiest pieces of equipment to operate in any industry: the jack.  
  Back Safety  
  Back disorders are listed in the "top ten" leading workplace injuries published by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.  
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