Noisy environments are everywhere, from crowded city streets to busy factories. And while a certain amount of noise is simply part of daily life, prolonged exposure to loud sounds can damage your hearing.
If you work in a noisy environment, it is important to take steps to protect your hearing. However, even if you take precautions, you may still develop noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). NIHL is one of the most common occupational injuries in the United States. Each year, thousands of workers suffer from hearing loss caused by exposure to noise at work. In this guide, we discuss some of the ways you can protect your hearing while working in these kinds of environments.
The Risks of Noise Exposure
Noise exposure is a leading cause of hearing loss. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.1 billion young people are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise.
There are a number of occupations that expose workers to high levels of noise on a regular basis, including construction workers, factory workers, and musicians. However, noise exposure is not just a problem for those in high-risk occupations. Even exposure to moderate levels of noise can cause hearing loss over time.
What’s Too Loud for Human Ears?
Researchers have found that exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels (dB) can cause hearing loss. To give you an idea of what this means, here are some common sounds and their noise levels:
- Normal conversation: 30 dB
- City Traffic: 80-85 dB
- Lawn Mower: 90 dB
- Subway Train: 95 dB
- Rock concert/Loud Music on Earphones: 110 dB
- Ambulance Siren: 120 dB
- Gunshot: 140 dB
As you can see, noise levels can add up quickly, even if you’re not working in a high-risk occupation. For example, if you’re sitting in city traffic for an hour, you’re exposed to 85 dB of noise. If you then go to a rock concert, you’re exposed to an additional 25 dB of noise. This means you’re being exposed to noise levels of 110 dB, which is well above the 85 dB threshold.
How to Protect Your Hearing When Working in Noisy Environments
Working in a noisy environment can be tough on your hearing. Whether you’re a construction worker, a musician, or just someone who likes to listen to music loudly, it’s important to take steps to protect your hearing. Here are some tips to help you stay safe:
Wear earplugs or earmuffs: This is an obvious one, but it’s worth repeating. Wearing ear protection can help reduce the risk of hearing loss.
Take Breaks: If you’re going to be exposed to noise for an extended period of time, make sure to take breaks. This will give your ears a chance to rest and recover.
Limit Your Exposure: If you can, try to limit your exposure to noise. This may mean avoiding loud environments or wearing ear protection when you’re in them. The louder the noise, the greater the risk of hearing loss. Try to limit your exposure to loud noise whenever possible.
Monitor Your Hearing: If you start to experience ringing in your ears or trouble hearing, it’s time to see a doctor. These could be signs of hearing loss.
Get Your Hearing Checked: If you’re exposed to noise at work, make sure you get your hearing checked regularly. This will help you catch any problems early.
Protecting your hearing is essential. By following these tips, you can help protect your hearing from damage. Noise-induced hearing loss is a preventable condition, so make sure to take steps to protect your ears.
The best form of protection for your hearing is consulting a professional on how to take good care of it. That’s what the specialists at Country Hearing Care are here for. We are a local, family-owned audiology practice providing expert hearing care across regional Australia. Our team has more than 15 years of combined experience in ethical client-centred care that focuses on improving your hearing health. Schedule an appointment with us today to experience our hearing services.