Personal Protective Equipment - Hearing Protection
By: The Working Man
The effects of loud noise, especially sustained loud noise, on
human hearing have been well documented. Frequent exposure to
noise can lead to serious hearing loss, as well as causing
increased fatigue and reduced work output. Loud noise also leads
to communication breakdowns and accidents. Hearing can be
affected by even moderate noise if it continues over long
Particular jobs, using a jack hammer for example, are well known
for contributing to work-related hearing loss. Such hearing loss
is permanent and there is usually no cure, but wearing the right
kind of hearing protective equipment on the job site can make the
disorder completely preventable.
Consequently employers are often required by laws and regulations
to provide hearing protection for employees who work in
particular jobs or noisy job sites. If hearing protective
equipment is provided for you - wear it!
You should consider wearing hearing protection whether or not it
is required for your job or provided by your employer if:
1) The area in which you work always or often has noise that
drowns out normal conversation.
2) Your ears ring after you have been exposed to noise.
3) You feel stressed or nervous after being exposed to noise.
4) The speech of others (or your own) seems muffled after you
have been exposed to noise.
Hearing protective equipment can be found in many different types
so that you can wear the type that works best for your ears and
your job assignment. If you also wear a helmet, there are ear
muffs that attach to the helmet. Or you can find sound-blocking
ear muff headsets, hearing protection headsets with built-in
radio or walkie talkie, reusable ear plugs, disposable ear plugs,
and no doubt many other creative choices.
You will need to choose the right style of hearing protective
equipment yourself if the equipment is not provided by your
employer, or if you are the employer.
Ear muffs are more comfortable for longer wearing times, but they
can be obstructed by hats or eyeglasses. Ear plugs are small and
portable in your pocket and much lower cost if loss is a problem.
Be sure to check the NRR (noise reduction rating). All hearing
protection devices are rated according to how many decibels of
noise they will reduce for the wearer. Look for NRR of 25 or
greater to allow for the reduced noise abatement on the job site
as opposed to the perfect laboratory conditions in which the
products were tested.
Consider cost. Disposable ear plugs usually cost about one
dollar, but if you need them every day they are quickly much more
expensive than an ear muff at about $16. If muffs won't work for
you, you might try reusable ear plugs, but be sure to keep them
clean and store them in a clean, covered container.
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