Machine & Operator Safety
Solutions for minimizing hearing loss
March 20, 2017 by Dennis Kaminski SafetyMart.com
Mar. 20, 2017 – Millions of workers work every day in industrial environments. But ever wonder the impacts of the constant noise pollution they experience on their hearing ability?
Occupational hearing loss is severe. Just imagine going to work on a normal routine and constant exposure to the high level of noise results in hearing loss. It creates a lifetime of damage for any individual, and is certainly a severe issue to consider.
What causes hearing loss?
Simplistically, when the inner ear is damaged, loss of hearing occurs. Factors such as ageing or one’s constant exposure to loud and harmful noises can result in hearing loss. It is the nerve cells in the cochlea in the ear that gets damaged in the process. And that is why you would need industrial ear-plugs. Since the hairs and the cochlea are means to send the sound motions to your nervous system, damage to these features results in the loss of hearing.
Noise-induced hearing loss — the key cause of concern
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) refers to one’s experience of hearing loss, which occurs from their constant exposure to a high level of noise around them.
NIHL is generally caused when the noise is harmful. While we all are exposed to a certain level of noise every day which is prompted from various sources, an industrial site can well be realized to reflect such noise at a very high level, which is not usual to accept for a normal human being. Thus, such exposures result in damage to the sensitive structures within the ear, causing hearing loss.
The good news is that such NIHL can be prevented and treated too, or at least managed enough to help an affected individual to a great extent.
However, a severely damaged ear may be difficult to be treated. Medications such as aspirin or taking in higher levels of Vitamin E, have been found to reduce the impacts of hearing loss greatly. Vitamins A, C, E and magnesium are great for the prevention of hearing loss.
Hence, it is better to take preventive measures not to experience hearing loss in the first place. Particularly, if you are an industrial worker, you must learn the ways you can prevent yourself from such a suffering. If you are a worker in a manufacturing environment, here is the list of safety equipment that can prevent you from loss of hearing.
• Industrial earplugs
Industrial earplugs are one of the best equipment to protect your ears from the loud harmful noise on a construction site. The earplugs are reusable in nature and are available in different sizes. They have handles and flanges too, easy to carry, and easy to use, with cords connecting the two ear plugs for both the ears. However, you must ensure that you have the rightly sized plugs for your ears. You also need to fit them well to achieve maximum protection.
• Roll down foam
These are also devices that you can fit in your ears, and when rightly fitted, they offer a high level of protection from external harmful noises. These devices are suitable for ears of different shapes and ear canals. Ensure you have a properly sealed fit of the foams in the ear so that you are rightly protected from the noise.
• Safety earmuffs
While these can be slightly hotter and heavier than earplugs or foams, they are extremely high performing for defending your ears, and protecting from the loud noise prevailing on construction sites. Since the earmuffs are placed like a headband, wherein the earmuffs in the form of padded cups, cover your ears, you need not pressurize yourself to fit in the same in your ears. This makes it quite comfortable for use, therefore. Industrial earplugs are your best bet though.
While it is the concerned responsibility of manufacturing companies to make such protective devices available for their workers, making them mandatory to use them while on site; however, in case a company doesn’t provide the same, you can still make these devices available for yourself and prevent yourself from hearing damages. These are readily available in the market, reasonably priced too, and you can choose the device of your choice that rightly makes you comfortable to use.
Dennis Kaminski is the owner of SafetyMart.com, helping customers ranging from private businesses to government/municipal agencies, both large and small to address their safety needs and requirements. Visit www.SafetyMart.com for more information.
This column was originally published in the March/April 2017 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.