How to Prevent Worker Hearing Loss From Noise

The best way to prevent hearing loss is by reducing or eliminating the exposure. Identifying the source of noise through a noise survey, getting a quieter machine, placing employees further from the noise source, enclosing machinery and/or the operator are examples of engineering and administrative controls that can reduce noise exposure. Hearing plugs and muffs can be added protection Employees who are exposed to high noise should participate in a hearing conservation program. It should include annual training in noise induced hearing loss and use of hearing protectors, a written program, and baseline and annual audiograms.

OSHA has determined that exposure to 85 decibels time weighted average for an 8-hour day can cause hearing damage. Hearing loss results when the nerves or hair cells of the hearing mechanism are damaged or destroyed due to excessive noise exposure. Generally, the higher frequency hearing is affected first, hearing loss is usually partial, can occur without warning, and with no known cure. Key factors in hearing loss include individual susceptibility, noise intensity, and duration of exposure.

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