Tips to Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss at the Workplace

Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common work-related condition in the United States. Each year, an estimated 22 million U.S. workers encounter noise exposures loud enough to be potentially hazardous. In addition to damaging workers’ quality of life, occupational hearing loss can carry a high economic price to society. Topper Industrial, the leader in the material handling equipment industry, recommend how noise-induced hearing loss can be avoided at the workplace.

Occupational hearing loss occurs as a result of workers’ exposure to loud noise. In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that workers should not be exposed to noise at a level that amounts to more than 85 decibels (dBA) for 8 hours.

The level of risk is influenced by several factors:

  • Noise level – as noise level increases, the risk also increases
  • Duration of exposure – the longer the noise lasts, the more hazardous it becomes
  • Impulsiveness – noises that have very abrupt starts and stops (such as hammering, gunfire, or fireworks) are more dangerous than constant noise of the same overall level
  • Intermittency – periods of relative quiet between exposures allow the ear to “rest” and reduce the risk

Develop a hearing loss prevention program

In order to minimize occupational risks and reduce work-related hearing loss, companies and organizations should consider implementing a Hearing Loss Prevention Program. Critical components to any Hearing Loss Prevention Program include:

  • Noise exposure monitoring
  • Engineering and administrative controls
  • Audiometric evaluation
  • Hearing protection devices
  • Hearing protection: A practical step

Although removal or control of hazardous noise from the workplace is the best solution, hearing protectors should be used in situations where dangerous noise exposures have not yet been eliminated. NIOSH has developed tools that provide valuable information about hearing protection devices.

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