Preventing Hearing Loss on the Job

It is common knowledge that construction workers are at a high risk for hearing loss. After all, every day they work with loud equipment such as jackhammers and large machinery. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 82 percent of those who suffer from noise-related hearing loss in the United States are construction workers. Here’s more information on preventing hearing loss on the job.

In an effort to stem construction-related hearing loss, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has two protocols related to reducing hearing loss in the construction industry. The first protocol limits the period of time a construction worker is allowed to be exposed to noise greater than 90 decibels. The second protocol requires hearing protection devices to be used when noise exposure is greater than 90 decibels or when a worker is exposed to that level of noise for more than eight hours.

Several construction equipment manufacturers sell noise reduction equipment, but this equipment is more expensive that normal construction equipment. The equipment may be worth the extra money, however, when you factor in the importance of keeping construction workers safe from the damaging effects of noise, and the cost of workers compensation or disability claims that may be filed by workers in the event that their hearing is damaged.

While ear plugs are the most common way construction companies and workers try to reduce exposure to damaging noise, ear plugs can put workers in dangerous situations by blocking out too much noise. A construction worker wearing ear plugs risks not hearing alarms or other warnings while working in high-risk danger zones. Therefore, it is important that ear plugs do not block out all noise.

In addition to ear plugs and noise reduction equipment, there are several other steps that can be taken to prevent hearing loss. These include the strict enforcement of all OSHA regulations related to reducing hearing loss. Construction workers also should be rotated in and out of loud noise zones and, whenever possible, loud equipment should be operated outside of the main work zone.

Of course, safety services training is essential in order to make sure that construction workers know how best to prevent hearing loss. After all, the safety and health of its employees is the key to any company’s success.