Freedom to be loud

How to prevent hearing loss at workplaces with high exposure to noise?

How to prevent hearing loss at workplaces with high exposure to noise?

At workplaces, prolonged exposure to very loud noise can have negative consequences for workers. In fact, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 50 million adults in the US who suffer from hearing loss, in one or both ears, from exposure to loud noise.

Even for industry sectors such as construction, manufacturing, mining, or oil production, noise-induced hearing loss is considered a relevant occupational health and safety issue. If we take into account that there’s data from the World Health Organization (WHO) that indicates that there are more than 1,500 million people in the world with disabling hearing loss, as well as estimates that this figure could reach 2.5 billion by 2050.

Companies have the obligation to take reasonable and effective measures to guarantee safe work spaces for their workers. This implies that if a worker is constantly exposed to levels of noise that are harmful to their health, such as those generated by machines, electrical or mechanical tools, excessive noise, among others, the employer must find ways to prevent long term effects in the health of its workforce. 

Companies should focus on prevention, since, hearing loss in this type of environment often occurs without the person realizing it, until it’s too late.

How can excessive noise affect hearing?

Before moving on, let’s have a look at what is considered a loud noise. According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 decibels (dB) and any exposure to sounds above 135 dB can cause permanent hearing damage. Too add some perspective, a normal conversation can generate a noise of about 60 to 70 dB, while the siren of an ambulance can generate about 110 to 129 dB.

This means that excessively loud noises can damage the cells located in our inner ear. Those cells located in the cochlea are in charge of converting the vibrations of the sound that we receive through our ears, into electrical signals that are finally interpreted by the brain as sounds.

However, when we are exposed to loud noise for a long time, irreparable damage can be done to these small cells. According to specialists, a person can lose between 30% and 50% of these cells, before a hearing loss can be diagnosed through a hearing test. 

Ways to prevent the risks of hearing loss

While it’s necessary for companies to take steps to protect the hearing health of their workers, it’s also important for workers to be able to identify the risks of exposure to excessive noise that they may have in their work areas. Taking the above into consideration here are some preventative measures:

Measure and monitor sound levels

Companies must identify the sources of loud noise in each of their work spaces and also the workers who are exposed to excessive noise.

Wear hearing protection devices

Workers who are at risk of hearing loss as a result of exposure to loud noise should be provided with protective equipment, such as earplugs, earmuffs and appropriate headphones to minimize noise levels.

Educate staff

This is perhaps one of the best forms of prevention as it allows workers to understand how hearing loss occurs and what they can do to protect themselves and prevent it.

Hearing tests for workers

Once the company has identified the workers who may be exposed to noise-induced hearing loss, they must arrange for an audiogram to be taken within the first six months of employment. Then, these tests must be repeated at least once a year and their results compared, in order to detect in time if there is any hearing loss. 

Post warning signs

Companies should make every effort to identify work areas where noise may exceed the 85 dB limit and post signs warning staff of the risk of exposure to noise.

Soundproof booths to protect you from harmful noise

One of the solutions that companies can also use to protect their employees from excessive noise are acoustic booths, because they are ideal for work environments subject to constant noise from machinery, industrial equipment and construction sites, for example.

These booths are made with materials developed to provide an optimum level of soundproofing within their structure. Companies can guarantee their teams a workspace free of annoying and harmful noise and, at the same time, a comfortable and pleasant area to concentrate on their activities and be more productive.

In addition, the manufacture of acoustic booths is tailored to each space. Therefore, each modular structure can be installed and adjusted to any area, which makes these units ideal for any type of industry or company, where noise control is necessary.

Are you interested in knowing how acoustic booths can help you solve the problems of loud noise exposure in your company? At Studiobricks, we are experts creating, developing and manufacturing acoustic booths for different uses; and we sure have a booth that fits your requirements. Contact us and we will gladly help yuou design where your team can stay healthy and thrive.