Hearing Loss Implications in Steel Mills

Date: April 5, 2023 | Category: High Noise Workplace Environment

The steel industry is one of the most developed industries in the world. It is an integral part of the economy and has become a necessary component for many other fields such as construction, automotive and transportation, infrastructure, and machinery. The steel industry also employs over 6 million people, and its growth only continues. Despite the continuous growth of the steel industry, however, steelworkers are regularly suffering from the consequences of not having adequate safety protection, as 33.5% of steelworkers have noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Noise Levels in the Steel Industry

The steel industry is considered to be one of the loudest industries, as noise levels can reach up to 110 dB(A). These extreme noise environments result in high numbers of NIHL cases. A study in 2019 found that "80% of the steel industry workers in the study had hearing loss at noise-sensitive frequencies." These results concluded that the age of steelworkers in zones with high noise hazards was significantly associated with hearing loss, thus revealing the unsafe nature of the steel industry environment.Improving Safety & Performance in the Steel Industry

Hearing Loss Implications 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), exposure to noise levels above 85 dB(A) for 8 hours per day or above 100 dB(A) for 15 minutes per day can cause NIHL. The severity of NIHL depends on the intensity and duration of the noise exposure. The higher the noise level and the longer the exposure, the more severe the hearing loss can be. Despite this knowledge, steelworkers are continually exposed to noise levels above these limits, making them vulnerable to NIHL. It is reported that 28% of steelworkers are regularly exposed to noise levels between 85-95 dB(A). However, steelworkers are not the only ones at risk of NIHL in the steel industry. Engineers, maintenance workers, and other employees who work in or around the steel mills are also at risk. The noise from steelmaking processes can be heard from far away, making it difficult to avoid. This constant exposure to hazardous noise levels that steel industry workers faces not only causes hearing loss, but other health issues as well. The effects of NIHL can include cardiovascular problems, sick absenteeism, tired employees, declining productivity, risk of incidents, and declining quality of life. When employees' safety is not a priority, the implications are detrimental. "Blindness is easy to see; deafness is invisible. Thus hearing impairment is an unseen misery."

Improving Safety Issues

So, how can this safety hazard in the steel industry be resolved? This can be done by taking the right preventative steps, starting with using hearing protection such as Sensear. From extreme noise exposure to hazardous atmospheres, Sensear's headsets are made to provide protection in any environment. This includes protection from the extreme noise levels in steel mills, and Sensear is the only manufacturer of double protection headsets with earplugs integrated into the earmuffs. Not only that, but Sensear also provides intrinsically safe solutions so you can hear speech and stay protected even in explosive environments. Our unique SENS® Technology provides clear communication, noise suppression, and 360° situational awareness in the loudest industrial environments. Your safety doesn't have to be compromised when you choose Sensear.

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Nate Holmer

Marketing Manager As the marketing manager for Sensear, Nate brings over ten years of experience in B2B digital marketing and sales, specializing in content marketing. Nate's background in the manufacturing and industrial sectors equips him with a deep understanding of the "buyer persona" and the unique safety challenges end-users face in industrial environments. His commitment to end-user awareness and education on work-related hearing loss illustrates his passion for hearing conservation. His personal motivation for solutions to reduce occupational hearing loss makes him the perfect fit to drive user awareness of Sensear's advancements and comprehensive employee safety benefits.