Have you ever come home from work with a ringing in your ears, or experience dull or muffled hearing after your shift? Do you have to raise your voice in the workplace so that your co-workers can hear you. Are you finding it increasingly difficult to hear the television or conversations, especially when there is background noise?
If you work in a noisy workplace, you could be at risk for permanent hearing damage. Many workplaces, including manufacturing plants and construction sites, expose workers to excessive noise levels over long periods of time. Also, some workplaces will subject workers to sudden loud sounds such as explosions.
Did you know that approximately 17,000 people in the UK suffer from a ringing in the ears, deafness or other ear conditions that are caused by excessive noise at work?
Every day that you are exposed to these high noise levels, your hearing is damaged permanently by a small amount. This damage is so minor that you will not notice that it is happening, but over the years it will add up to significant hearing loss. There is no cure for hearing loss – your only option will be to wear a hearing aid that will amplify sounds rather than replace your normal hearing.
The Physical Effects of Excess Noise at Work
What are some of the physical effects that are caused by excess loud noises in the workplace? Exposure to constant excessive noise can result in reoccurring headaches as well as irritability. It will also manifest in elevated blood pressure and fatigue. Some workers even experience digestive disorders as well as increased susceptibility to minor infections and colds.
The auditory effects of exposure to excessive noise in the workplace include hearing impairment. You might experience ringing or buzzing in the ear, or temporary hearing loss. The ear is a very delicate and sensitive instrument and it receives sounds with tiny bones on the eardrum that pick up vibrations in the airwaves and pass them into the inner ear. Excessive noise will bend, break and damage the tiny little hairs within the cochlea that pass on the sound waves into the brain. When this happens, scar tissue is formed and the ear can no longer conduct sound.
Danger in the Working Environment
High levels of noise at work pose a danger to employees because they make it difficult for staff to hear what is going on around them. This can make accidents more likely, because employees might not hear warning signals or other employees.
How to Reduce the Risk of Hearing Loss
How can the risk of noise-induced hearing loss be reduced in the workplace? Here are a few ways that you can protect the hearing of your employees:
Can you replace the equipment that you are currently using with machinery or tools that will be quieter? Or, are there repairs or modifications that you can conduct in order to make the machinery quieter?
Moving employees further away from the source of the sound will help to reduce their risk of hearing damage.
All employees should undergo the appropriate health and safety training, so that they are aware of the risks involved and know how to prevent them.
Provide your employees with high quality hearing protection that is suited to their task. Make sure that it is comfortable and practical, so that they will be more likely to wear it at all times.
As an employer you have the responsibility to ensure the safety and health of your employees, which includes protecting them from noise at work and the risk of long term hearing damage.
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