We live in a world that is ever-increasingly loud and noisy. But what is too loud for our ears?
Everyone has different sensitivity to noise - some people could hear a pin drop, while others strain to hear what someone is saying to them. Having said that, experts agree that being exposed to loud noise over a period of time is damaging to our hearing. Putting yourself at risk, whether listening to music through your headphones or by working in noisy environments can permanently damage hearing leading to loss of quality of life.
Experts and governments suggest that the safe exposure limit to sound is 85 decibels for 8 hours per day. The risk to hearing from noise at work depends on the sound levels we're exposed to. The safe exposure limit is calculated from a combination of exposure time and sound intensity (level). The noise level where employers must provide hearing protection is a daily or weekly average exposure of 85 decibels. Reducing the noise level by only three decibels would allow a doubling of the exposure time.
Here are some tips to protecting your ears at work:
- If hearing protection is recommended, wear it correctly in all areas – for hearing protection to be effective you must wear it 100% of the time.
- Find ear protection which is comfortable for you, whether ear plugs, ear muffs or a combination of the two.
- Know your surroundings – what are the average levels of noise you are exposed to throughout your shift.
- If the company you work for offers annual hearing checks, book yourself in and monitor your hearing. If you are worried about your hearing, get your hearing checked and inform the person testing your hearing when you were last exposed to noise and how long you were exposed for.
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