Choosing the Right Hearing Protection for the Job
October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. According to the CDC, an estimated 22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging workplace noise. Industries such as Mining and Construction have even higher percentages of workers with hearing impairment. When loud noises cannot be reduced or eliminated through engineering controls, workers exposed to them must use hearing protection devices (HPDs). Learn more about choosing the right hearing protection for your job.
Hazards of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss may affect a worker's ability to perform even daily tasks.
- You may not hear warnings.
- Noise can distract you.
- Safety is impacted at home and on the job.
- Hearing loss may increase your risk of falling.
- Years of prolonged or excessive noise exposure may make you deaf.
- Noise may cause "tinnitus" or ringing in the ears, which can interfere with your sleep, concentration and is associated with depression and anxiety.
- Noise may cause high blood pressure and stress.
Basic Types of Hearing Protection
OSHA requires employers to provide employees with hearing protection when working around loud noise. Make sure your hearing protection fits and is comfortable. Earplugs are inserted into the ear cavity to dampen loud noises. Canal caps resemble earplugs on a flexible plastic or metal band that can be worn over the head, behind the neck, or under the chin. Earmuffs must form a complete seal around the entire ear to be effective. The louder the job, the more hearing protection you need.
Choosing the Right Hearing Protection
Work-related hearing loss is common and preventable. Different work environments require different kinds of hearing protection.
- Continuous Loud Noise - When workers become exposed to constant loud noise, earplugs may offer low-cost, protective hearing protection.
- Variable Noise Levels - Often, workers need protection from loud noise but still must hear in low noise without removing their hearing protection. When it's quiet, workers can leave canal caps hanging around their necks. They can quickly insert the plug tips when hazardous noise starts again.
- Communicating in Loud Noise - Hearing protection with built-in two-way radios allows workers to improve communication in loud noise.
Once you've lost your hearing, you can't get it back. Employers should train all employees on how to protect their hearing and using hearing protection. To learn more ways to keep your employees safe on the job, contact your local Risk Control Consultant. To locate an agent near you, click the "Find an Agent" button below.
For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.