Ear plugs should be worn in production areas where they are required! There are no exceptions to this policy even for somebody just passing through one of these areas ear plugs are a requirement.
Last year alone there were over 21,000 cases of hearing loss due to noise exposure in the work environment. For reasons like this OSHA has mandated that in a work environment that is over 90dba for an 8hr TWA then ear protection must be worn.
The most dangerous part about this is it can be hard to recognize when hearing protection is needed. As a work environment it can be easy to get use to the amount of noise you hear every day.
Here are a few tips to help you recognize a hearing hazard. Do you have to raise your voice or shout for a coworker to hear you? Is there are ringing or humming in your ears when you leave work? Do you experience temporary hearing loss when you leave work? Have you noticed people need to raise their voice for you to hear them when outside of the work place? These can be good preliminary indicators that you should be wearing hearing protection at work. However, if you have been working in a loud environment without wearing hearing protection these may not apply to you as your hearing may already be damaged.
Hearing protection can be the difference in a great quality life or a bad quality of life. Furthermore, loss of hearing can affect your brains ability to function properly. Avoid the risk of hearing loss, wear your hearing protection where it is needed.
How do loud noises affect you throughout the work day? How does your company treat hearing protection? Could it be improved?