May is a busy month for various topics, including safety, awareness. One of those recognitions is Better Hearing Month. When working in the construction industry, this topic hits close to home as hearing protection is a major part of our safety efforts to keep teammates safe and healthy. The American Academy of Audiology promotes Bettering Hearing Month and is "dedicated to advancing the profession of audiology through increasing public awareness.”
According to the American Academy of Audiology, approximately 30 million workers are exposed to hazardous levels of noise on the job. Another 9 million are at risk for hearing loss from other agents such as solvents and metals.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also raises awareness for the dangers of noise induced hearing loss on the job. Hearing loss can be prevented but it cannot be reversed once it has occurred. Some hearing loss happens over time and we do not realize it. According to OSHA, you may have hearing loss if:
· You have a hard time hearing people in groups or meetings or if there is background noise.
· People sound as if they are mumbling.
· You have to ask people to repeat what they say.
· You have trouble understanding others on the telephone.
· You have ringing or noises in one or both ears.
· You have trouble hearing back-up alarms or the ringing of a cell phone.
It is best to wear hearing protection when you are going to be working around high levels of noise for any length of time. The American Academy of Audiology recommends wearing hearing protection when exposed to noise levels over 85 decibels (dB). Their reference for levels of noise is:
· 60 dB—Normal conversations or dishwashers
· 80 dB—Alarm clocks
· 90 dB—Hair dryers, blenders, and lawnmowers
· 100 dB—MP3 players at full volume
· 110 dB—Concerts, car racing, and sporting events
· 120 dB—Jet planes at take off
· 130 dB—Ambulances and fire engine sirens
· 140 dB—Gun shots, fireworks, and custom car stereos at full volume
And OSHA offers these additional tips:
· Plan to make or use prefabricated noise barriers.
· Ask your employer to buy or rent quieter equipment/tools.
· Limit the hours you work in hazardous noise areas.
· Identify equipment and work areas where signs can be posted to make other workers aware of high noise areas.
· Use hearing protection to supplement noise reduction.
Stay safe and protect your hearing and your health on the job!
One Team. One Vision. One Goal. – Everyone Goes Home Safe!