Noise in the modern workplace is a well-known hazard with firm laws and guidelines in the United States, Australia and many other countries throughout the world to ensure employees have some degree of protection.

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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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Permanent Hearing Damage

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 125,000 workers each year end up with permanent hearing damage because of workplace noise.

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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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The promise of noise cancelling headphones can seem like a magic bullet when it comes to protecting the hearing of employees that work around loud noises. That is, however, until you start to think about the health and safety risks that come with looking after a workforce unable to hear you or each other.

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Industrial noise suppression headsets are different from standard noise reduction muffs as well as active noise cancelling headphones, the latter of which are often used on public transportation or within offices when you want to cancel out background noise and listen to music.

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Project managers on construction and manufacturing jobsites face a number of challenges. They are under constant pressure to meet timetables, prevent cost overruns and avoid hazards and liabilities. They are often too concerned about these issues to worry much about noise. Unfortunately, high levels of noise on a jobsite can be very costly. Project managers must understand the risks and take appropriate precautions.

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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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