Excessive workplace noise levels present a serious health risk, especially for men. Studies have found that men are 5 times more likely than women to develop hearing problems as the result of excessive noise. This increased risk stems from the fact that men are more likely to work in industries that use noise-producing machinery.
If you are a man working in such an environment, you must be sure to protect against unwanted hearing damage. This article takes a look at four effective strategies for reducing the chances of workplace hearing loss.
1. Use Protective Devices
The most basic way to guard against workplace hearing loss involves using some form of protective device. In most cases, that means either earplugs or earmuffs. Both products offer similar noise reduction levels — usually falling in a range between 20 and 33 decibels. Choose whichever device you feel more comfortable using.
You should also understand that such devices only offer appropriate protection when used correctly. Earplugs must be seated fully in the ear, such that the press tightly against the canal walls. Earmuffs, by contrast, must press firmly against the side of the head. Improperly fitted devices won’t be able to reduce decibel levels appropriately.
2. Erect Protective Barriers
If your job requires you to manually operate heavy machinery, you may not be able to reduce the amount of ambient noise you are exposed to. Yet those who work near such equipment are often needlessly exposed to excess noise levels. By putting up walls or barriers around noise-producing machinery, noise levels can be significantly lowered for workers on other parts of the jobsite.
3. Upgrade to Quieter Machinery
As awareness of noise-related problems have grown, companies that manufacture heavy machinery have begun introducing quieter models. In many cases, you can reduce dangerous noise levels by upgrading aging machinery. Of course, this solution isn’t possible in all cases. Fortunately, regular maintenance and lubricant also promotes quieter operation.
4. Have Your Hearing Evaluated Regularly
Hearing loss happens gradually, often over the course of years — if not decades. This slow timespan makes it difficult to register the change. For that reason, anyone who works in a noisy environment should get regular hearing evaluations. Many employers even make hearing tests an integral part of their health insurance package.
A trained medical professional can perform an array of tests meant to catch any signs of hearing loss. For more information, contact Dr. Michelle, Florida’s leading audiologist.