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Hearing Protection: How to Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Working in a noisy area has always been a big problem, because many workers don't pay attention to a noisy working conditions. They suppose that loud noise can cause only a temporary change in hearing (ears stuffed up or ringing) to go away in a few minutes or hours after leaving the noisy area. Actually, stuffed up ears or tinnitus are only short-term problems. If you work every day in a noisy environment you're repeatedly exposed to loud noise that can lead not only to continuous singing in the ears, but also to permanent hearing loss. It is also known as noise-induced hearing loss.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss & Its Physical and Psychological Constituents: Warning Signs of Your Workplace Being Too Noisy

Loud noise can affect a person via creating both psychological and physical stress, interferes with concentration and communication, reduces productivity and contributes to workplace injuries and accidents because of a person's inability to hear warning signals. The permanent combination of all those things will sooner or later lead a person to a noise-induced hearing loss that seriously limits ability to understand speech, to hear high frequency sounds and even communicate. The hearing loss can be rather profound, as it can influence to your ability to enjoy socializing with friends, participate in social activities and can even lead to social and psychological isolation. That's why if you notice any of the following warning signs, be sure that your workplace is too noisy:

  • humming or ringing in one's ears when leaving work;
  • experiencing temporary hear loss when you leave your workspace;
  • shouting to be heard by co-workers standing an arm's length away.

How to Prevent Occupational Deafness: Types of Noise Controls

Occupational deafness can be prevented by noise controls, which are the first defence line against excessive noise exposure. Of course, the best way should be the reducing noise by means of engineering (equipment replacement or modification) or administrative controls (machine operation with less people exposed, time limit at a noisy source, providing of noise relief areas etc.). But in certain workplaces, where there is little or nothing that can be done to reduce the noise level, workers wear special hearing protection devices or protectors. They are ear plugs and ear muffs that can reduce the amount of noise reaching the ears, thus preventing noise-induced hearing loss.

Hearing Protection Devices: Things You Should Know About Selecting Hearing Protector

Ear plugs and ear muffs belong to the most common hearing protectors. Normally, they are an acceptable part of a complete hearing conservation program, but still less desirable option of controlling noise exposures and are usually used during time of implementation of engineering and administrative controls.

Hearing protectors are special devices which are designed to prevent noise-induced hearing loss, and should be worn at workplaces, where the noise of sound level exceeds 85 decibels. Though hearing protection devices are effective at reducing the noise exposure level and the hearing loss risk, their effectiveness may become doubtful if they don't fit properly or worn only part-time.

What Hearing Protector to Choose: Types of Hearing Protection Devices

Generally, there are three types of hearing protectors, and here belong:

  • ear plugs (designed to be inserted in the ear canal in order to protect the user's ears against loud noises, water intrusion, dust, excessive wind, or foreign bodies; are divided into 3 kinds: foam, silicone and flanged);
  • semi-insert ear plugs (two earplugs held over the ear canal's ends by a rigid headband);
  • ear muffs (designed to cover and protect a person' ears; consist of sound-minimizing material and soft ear cushions held together by a headband; are divided into 2 kinds: thermal and acoustic).

The choice of hearing protector depends on many factors, including the noise level, suitability for worker and environment, and comfort. Be sure that the hearing protector you choose provides the desired noise reduction, but if the noise exposure is discontinuous, then ear muffs are more desirable.


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