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The More You Know: Hearing Damage in Construction

Matt Luman September 20, 2017 0

Staying Competitive

Employees who are working on construction sites are consistently exposed to crashing, banging, and loud machinery. In turn, they are left most vulnerable to sustain injuries in relation to their sense of hearing. Like any other body part, our eardrums can suffer from overuse, overexposure, and the natural aging process. While the latter is a natural cause that can’t be avoided, overexposure in the workplace can be prevented with the aid of training and technology.

The OSHA 30-hour construction training, for one, covers the most common health and safety risks that professionals in the construction industry are facing on a daily basis. The program offers a variety of solutions that organizations can utilize to provide a safer and healthier working environment for all. In light of that, here’s some reminders to take note of when building countermeasures against hearing damage among your ranks:

Provide proper protection

The Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) have already stated the safe noise levels acceptable at work as well as recommendations about specific ear protection devices that must be worn within sound levels of 85dB. In addition, the standard also advices companies to provide the right ear protection gears whenever it’s been deemed that the noise can reach “an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA) permissible exposure limit of 90dB.”

Identify the common causes of NIHL (Noise-Induced Hearing Loss)

It’s critical to know what can cause NIHL so that such factors can be avoided or regulated at work:

  • Lack of appropriate equipment as defined by authorities.
  • Lack of awareness of the possible long-term effects of extended exposure to noise by on-site managers.
  • Lack of noise controls on equipment.
  • Insufficient health and wellness training by the company.
  • Inconsistent hearing standards set by agencies.
  • Workers who disregard reminders about extended exposure to noise.
  • Unwillingness of some employees to wear proper equipment when working under conditions with high noise level.

In hindsight, most of the guidelines and tools that can reduce the risk of NIHL is there for organizations to take advantage of, especially those industry-specific training programs which are now easily accessible online anytime.

Be mindful of existing data

In a recent study, 42% of those who were surveyed and said that their hearing’s good or excellent actually suffered from hearing loss when tested. Meanwhile, in 2010, at least 1 in 5 construction workers have self-reported NIHL. That number is staggering, since it’s nearly 1/3 higher than the proportion of workers with hearing loss in all other industries combined.

Overall, the data tell us that hearing loss in construction is quite common, and most of it are likely not being reported unless the damage has already reached a certain extent. It’s imperative for companies to be more proactive in implementing strategies that would reduce the cases of hearing damage among their ranks, and aside from the guidelines that’s been set by the government, organizations may also look to depend on technology and advanced engineering to lessen the effects of loud noises in the workplace.

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