Working at a theme park? A construction or landscaping job? In the general population, approximately 15% of young people between the ages of 6 and 19 show signs of impaired hearing1 possibly caused by loud noise.
Life can be loud, hearing loss is the number one sensory disability in the world – commonly caused by exposure to excessive noise, or sounds louder than 85 decibels. Simply put, 60 decibels is approximately the noise level of normal conversation and 90 decibels is approximately the sound of a lawnmower. But there are four steps any worker can take to understand and protect themselves.
Step One: Recognize the Hazard
If you have to shout for someone to hear you − and they’re only an arm’s length away – the noise could be hazardous. Even heavy city traffic can be louder than 85 decibels, loud enough to cause damage.
Step Two: Know the Facts
Once acquired, hearing loss is permanent and irreversible. The decrease in hearing due to noise exposure is fastest during the first 10 years of exposure, making hearing conservation efforts especially important for workers newly exposed to noise.
Step Three: Know Your Rights
Employers are obliged to provide appropriate hearing protection to workers in loud or hazardous noise environments. Talk to your employer about the right hearing protection for the environment you work in.
Step Four: Take Action
Always wear hearing protection. Even inexpensive foam earplugs can help provide noise reduction and can be comfortable to wear if used correctly. The science of hearing protection is robust − so don’t be afraid to understand and use it.