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Occupational Noise and Hearing Conservation

John DeRoia 2013 Posted by John DeRoia

MEMIC will be hosting a live webinar covering Occupational Noise and Hearing Conservation on December 19 at 10:00am.  Register any time at www.memic.com

How can you tell if you're losing your hearing? You probably can't. Hearing loss is an insidious process that creeps up on you with little or no warning. As sound reception becomes fainter, you may try to compensate without even realizing it—by turning the TV or radio up louder, by asking others to repeat themselves, or even by leaning closer to the source.

Prolonged exposure to loud noises, on and off the job, accumulates over years and can eventually cause permanent hearing impairment or deafness. By the time you realize you have a problem, the condition is very likely irreversible.

Don't wait until it is too late. Start wearing your hearing protection devices right away. You are ultimately responsible for consistent and proper use of your protective equipment.

Issues & Answers

You are used to the noise and it doesn't bother you.
This may be true, but exposure to noise does not "toughen up" your ears. The reason it doesn't bother you may be because you have already begun to lose your hearing.

If you've already lost some hearing, why wear the protectors now?
Just because you've lost some of your hearing doesn't mean you can't lose more or all of it. Early hearing loss is concentrated in the higher frequencies. As it progresses, it spreads to the lower frequencies and affects normal speech comprehension.  Although protection devices cannot restore a noise-induced hearing loss, they can prevent additional losses.

Your machine sounds different with the protectors on. 
Yes, it does sound different, and over time you will adjust to the differences and be able to monitor the sounds effectively.

With hearing protection you can't hear your co-workers. 
Without protectors, the high noise level causes sensory overload.  Reducing overall sound levels allows the ear to operate more effectively, just as sunglasses provide improved vision in high glare conditions.  It may take some time to adjust, but you should then be able to hear whatever you need to.

Why are the protectors so uncomfortable?
They shouldn't be, although like new shoes or glasses, they do need a period of adjustment. If the discomfort persists, it could be a sizing problem or you may need a different type of protector.

To make sure that we all do our part in hearing conservation, it is important that we receive cooperation from everyone. Besides openly discussing your concerns, you can make a difference by doing the following:

  1. Follow all precautions, procedures, and practices for your machinery and your hearing devices to minimize excessive exposure to noise.
  2. Watch for warning signs that are posted in areas where high noise levels exist and make sure you wear your protectors in those areas.
  3. Protect your hearing both at work and at home.  Make sure you minimize noise exposure in all aspects of your life. Protect your children's hearing, too, by explaining the dangers of blasting music—and set an example for them.

Look for the upcoming MEMIC webinar and additional safety information on www.memic.com

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