The Most Common Types of Occupational Hearing Loss and How to Avoid Them

 

Work Hearing Protection In an uncertain jobs market, having a steady gig is a cause for gratitude, but some jobs include inherent risks to your hearing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), occupational hearing loss is the most common workplace health risk in the U.S., with approximately 22 million workers affected. If you work in an environment that can damage your hearing, it is crucial to understand the risks of occupational hearing loss and take measures to protect yourself. Ideally, your employer takes responsibility for your hearing protection, but you can be proactive to prevent permanent hearing loss. Below are some high-risk jobs and some important precautions:

1. Manufacturing

As manufacturers seek the most efficient and productive equipment for their plants, they often fail to consider the noise level of the machinery. Workers who are concerned about noise levels should bring their own ear protection to wear on the factory floor if nothing is provided, and concerned employees should also seek opportunities to be advocates for hearing protection, such as recommending quieter machinery through initiatives like Buy Quiet or asking employers to provide hearing protectors.

2. Construction

The hammer drill is a common tool on any construction site, but according to Audicus.com it emits sounds measuring 115 decibels, even though anything over 85 decibels puts people nearby at a risk for permanent hearing damage. Studies show that most common carpentry tools are hazardously loud, so anyone working on a job site with these types of tools must take their hearing health seriously and invest in some high-quality hearing protection.

3. Entertainment

Professional musicians, production technicians, disc jockeys, and even servers and bartenders at nightclubs are at risk for hearing damage because of excessive noise from amplification systems. The typical noise level at a club is above 100 decibels—this might not cause permanent damage for the occasional concertgoer, but would create a potential problem for employees who work in that environment night after night. Small, discrete earplugs made just for musicians will diminish the harmful effects.

4. Aviation

Any airport employee who works outside must be diligent about hearing protection, since the sound of a jet engine, measured at 140 decibels, is one of the greatest auditory hazards in any workplace. Airports, cognizant of the risk, usually supply hearing protection, but if you work the aviation industry, you should schedule regular hearing screenings to make ensure the protective measures are sufficient. If you are concerned about occupational hearing loss at your, don’t ignore the potential danger. Take measures to protect your hearing, and if you have concerns about hearing loss, visit Beltone.com to take our online hearing test and take advantage of the range of resources we offer.

 
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Ken LaFerle, Au.D.

Director of Educational Services at Beltone
Ken is Beltone's Director of Educational Services and has been "bleeding Beltone Blue" for the last 26 years. He has been working in the hearing industry for the last 31 years and thoroughly enjoys the hearing care field and is looking forward to sharing his thoughts and experiences on the blog. More about Ken

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