Hearing protection among people in the construction industry
Hearing loss amongst workers in the construction industry is quite common and preventable with proper hearing protection. It is not at all a surprise that construction industry professionals run the risk of greater hearing loss than most. When you take into consideration the amount of noise produced from machinery such as jackhammers exceeding 120 decibels, a worker can find themselves in an enivronment comparable to a rock concert. Constant exposure to loud noise without adequate hearing protection over the span of many months and years contributes to noise-induced hearing loss.
The construction industry, however, is not on its own. Hearing loss commonly associated with older people affects more than 48 million people nationwide. Half of that number is associated to construction industry professionals that are exposed to hazardous noise levels on the job according to a report created by the Occupational Saftey & Health Administration (OSHA). In this report the findings supported that 23 percent suffered hearing loss having been exposed to occupational noise at some point in their career.
Hearing loss affects people both professionally and personally. If left untreated this can reduce employee earnings by as much as $30,000 per year as nearly twice as many people with hearing loss are likely to be unemployed when compared to peers with hearing aids. A 2013 survey showed 30 percent of workers have admitted they may have a hearing problem but have not sought out any treatment.
Early symptoms of hearing loss include turning up the TV and radios to levels others consider to be much too loud. Other symptoms are having problems hearing in noisey environments or difficulty hearing on the phone.
Occupational Health & Safety suggests these tips:
- For people consistently exposed to noise, especially while on the job, consider options such as ear muffs or custom ear plugs that offer significant protection.
- When attending sports events or music concerts, use ear protection such as inexpensive ear plugs that are available at pharmacies and other retail stores.
- Limit exposure to loud sounds – including music, lawnmowers, and motorcycles – to no more than 20 minutes at a time. Follow the 60/60 rule, which means use earbuds for no more than 60 minutes at a time and at 60 percent of the device's maximum volume.
- For people with hearing loss, here are tips to improve communications at work and at play:
- Before a meeting, request an agenda that will make it easier to follow the discussion.
- Ask for a meeting recap or partner with co-workers to share notes.
- Select a place at the table that enables you to see co-workers' faces and watch lips to help enhance speech understanding.
- Rather than nodding along to a conversation you can't follow, politely stop the discussion and ask the speaker to rephrase what was said.
- If recommended, consider wearing hearing aids, which help people hear soft sounds and keep loud noises at a comfortable level.
- Preserving hearing health, or obtaining treatment if necessary, is crucial for all Americans, but especially for home builders and construction industry professionals. Following these tips can help employees in these fields to maintain their hearing health and, as a result, enable them to continue as safely as possible to meet the home and construction needs of America.
Sonic Onsite Services offers a wide range of hearing protection and testing to help your employees proactively assess their hearing. Sonic Onsite offers industry standard audiometric testing, hearing protection that can be performed onsite from our mobile onsite testing van.