Hearing loss is a generic term that encompasses a wide range of issues and various degrees of disabilities. Typically, hearing loss can be a progressive process, often occurring subtly over time. If not taken seriously, hearing loss can leave uninformed workers in high-noise environments with permanent hearing impairments. Not only is this damaging for the worker, but this also affects the company or business owner greatly, as they can be held liable for the health and safety of their employees.

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Have you ever wondered what the loudest work environment is? According to a 2018 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting industries are among the most hazardous for high noise and hearing loss, with the Forestry and Logging industry as the most pervasive. Workers exposed to high noise in the Forestry and Logging industry have “a higher percentage of hearing loss (21%) than all other noise-exposed industries combined (19%)” (CDC, 2018).

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The best Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs) are ones that employees want to wear and have all of the features necessary for employees to get the job done safely and efficiently. Another factor to consider is the fit and the actual hearing protection level that is achieved from the HPD on a particular person. What do you do when everyone has different sized heads and not all hearing protection fits the same? What is the solution to having the right size headset with the right amount of hearing protection for each employee?

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When it comes to hearing protection for loud workplaces, business owners want to save money and purchase the cheapest option available to them. This cheaper option often comes in the form of disposable earplugs, regardless of the environmental concerns that are often associated with them. They purchase these disposable earplugs because they seem to be the most cost-effective hearing protection solution, but what if they are wrong? What if we were to say that in the long run, disposable earplugs cost hundreds of dollars more than investing in more permanent forms of hearing protection. Not only would the alternative save business owners in monetary costs, but also in productivity, employee safety, and overall business success. Let me explain how.

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Hearing Loss is much more common than most people realize

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The Causes of Hearing Loss in Construction and Heavy Equipment Industry

Workers in the Construction Industry are surrounded by high-noise levels from heavy equipment. The below chart shows the average noise level of the 10 most common high noise generating power equipment in the various construction industries.

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In today’s hectic world of work, it can be difficult to catch a minute of peace. People with labor-intensive jobs that are based outdoors are particularly vulnerable to the detrimental effects of loud noises and often feel the need to escape the sound of heavy machinery. However, manual laborers are not the only workers feeling the effects of excessive noise. With open offices plans now the norm in most workplaces, the sounds of chatter and movement that take place every day can have a number of detrimental effects on productivity and employee wellbeing.

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Can workers protect their hearing and stay alert to workplace hazards? Yes, they can, with the proper hearing protection equipment, safety training and situational-awareness.

Pilots, soldiers, and police officers know how important situational awareness is to their survival on the job. But from a general health and safety perspective, it has a more universal application One Occupational Safety online piece describes it this way:

"(S)ituational awareness means being aware of the surrounding conditions in your immediate work area and recognizing and dealing with unsafe work conditions before they become an issue…"

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The past ten years have presented some drastic changes within the 2-way industry. The advancement of digital radio portfolios such as Motorola’s MotoTRBO, Kenwood’s NexEdge, and other DMR vendors have given additional value to radio users in commercial and industrial organizations. These integrated solutions and applications for voice and data while increasing capacity and providing digital clarity.

In addition to these benefits, the past months have shown an increased movement towards safety compliance and awareness within 2-way radio vendors and accessory partners like Sensear.

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About 22 million people a year are exposed to potentially hazardous noise levels on the job. That attention-getting statistic was reported in an April 2013 article in The Hearing Journal.  OSHA's concern in this area got one Texas limestone fabricator's attention. On September 11, 2014, OSHA laid some heavy fines because the employer failed to list the warning signs emitted by the noisy machinery on their shop floor.

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  Download Sensear's 7 Degrees of Hearing Loss Infographic