As a result of a number of my field visits, I have noticed workers don’t use hearing protection as often as they should (including myself), to protect us from noise hazards onsite. Noise is unwanted sound, and it can have different effects on you. The first effect is physiological, which means that you can lose or damage your hearing over time. Noise can cause pain and even nausea when the exposure is severe. The second effect is psychological, which means noise can startle you, annoy you, disrupt your concentration, and inhibit communication. Where noise at high levels can cause these effects we must the hazard using isolation, elimination, engineering, administrative and hearing protection controls.
Speaking on the latter, many times workers resist wearing hearing protection more than any other type of PPE. One of the most common reasons is workers may feel they don’t really need it or that the hearing protection is uncomfortable. As with anything, you will get used to using your hearing protection with time. Most of the available hearing protection, when used correctly will provide about the same amount of protection. The best ear protector, therefore, is the one that you wear properly and use consistently.
Because of the nature of some work, wearing hearing protection is a crucial aspect of ensuring you have quality hearing for your entire life. Your employer should have taken the time to perform noise assessments for the equipment you work with. Take an opportunity to review the noise assessment for your equipment/work area and ensure you use hearing protection where required.
If you`ve ever left a concert with ringing ears you have experienced hearing damage. If you find after a work day that your ears are ringing or that voices are muffled you have likely experienced hearing damage. The facts are: hearing loss is gradual, even with intense exposures. By the time you realize that you can’t hear as well as you used to, the damage has been done and CAN NOT be reversed.