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.
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.
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.
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…"
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.
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.
The concept that loud machines cause hearing damage with prolonged exposure is not a new concept. However, it’s rare to find a situation nowadays where the effects of machinery in a given activity or function are seen affecting a population without any protection involved. One such study was done in Brazil and published in 2014.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) an average of 22 million workers in the United States are exposed to dangerous levels of noise in the workplace. Considering that approximately $242 million is spent each year on workers’ compensation for disability due to hearing loss, it is imperative that companies take a proactive approach to preventing hearing problems. Ongoing exposure to noise levels that exceed 85 dB is able to cause substantial hearing damage. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recommends that workers are not exposed to noise levels that exceed 85 dB for extended periods of time.
Every year, people around the world invest time in creating a list of New Year’s resolutions they hope to keep. In fact, about half of adults in the United States make them, according to IFLScience.com. The troubling thing is that only about 10% end up keeping them longer than a few months.
By this time, you’ve probably read quite a few of these lists stating the top resolutions to reach goals in your personal life, but what about at the workplace? In our line of work, it’s critical that we’re constantly vigilant for new opportunities to protect employees’ hearing safety, and the New Year is a great time to look at common resolutions and use those for inspiration when developing our plans for the coming year.