Hearing Loss in the Workplace
A very common, yet hardly reported workplace injury has to do with hearing loss. According to expert audiologist of New Jersey, Karen McQuaide, almost 25 percent of Americans report some sort of hearing loss due to excessive noise while on the job. It is something that affects not only your professional life but your social life and home life as well.
Loud environments invite hearing damage
There are plenty of professions that bring with them the risk of sustaining hearing damage. Some of these careers and jobs include:
- Construction and carpentry services
- Military careers
- Manufacturing and factory work
- Agriculture and farming
- Airport maintenance
- Any career where loud music is played or performed
- Loud bar and restaurant environments
If you work in one of these industries, you must take steps to prevent hearing loss and preserve one of the most important senses you have as you navigate this world—your hearing.
Following some smart noise protection protocols will help to prevent hearing loss while on the job and make for a happier and healthier life all the way around. Take these steps to prevent hearing loss:
Take everyday protection seriously
Depending on the type of job you perform, it may be appropriate to wear noise-canceling earphones and industrial-grade earplugs to reduce everyday noise that may be damaging to your ears. It is better to be safe than sorry; follow safety protocols according to the type of industry you service, and you’ll save yourself some issues later.
Avoid loud environments if possible
You don’t have to be a musician or a jackhammer operator to experience hearing loss as a result of your job; while musicians and construction workers are at greater risk for the development of hearing difficulties, any work being done around loud machinery, vehicles, or other loud environments may be cause for concern. Many employers are now requiring that their employees have their hearing tested several times per year, and they are putting protocols in place for safety and hearing preservation as studies become available concerning risks.
Take out those earbuds
Many people try to drown out work-related noise by cranking up their favorite tunes when working, thinking that they are protecting themselves and preserving their hearing. This is not the case; loud music coming from earbuds or headphones is just as potentially damaging as other workplace noise; if you must listen to music, always listen at a safe level, and don’t ever attempt to drown out external stimuli by listening to music in ways that could potentially damage your hearing.
Quit smoking; keep your blood sugar in check
Smoking does damage to areas of the body other than your lungs and heart. It lowers overall oxygen levels in your whole body, causing your blood sugar levels to rise. Unchecked blood sugar can lead to damage in the ear canal, negatively impacting your hearing. Take your doctor’s advice when it comes to quitting and getting your hearing checked regularly to prevent injury.
Never insert anything into your ear canal
Choose safe hearing protection that doesn’t involve inserting anything too far into your ear canal. Similarly, you shouldn’t be attempting to clean your ears with anything invasive like a Qtip or another stick-like device. These devices can potentially piece your eardrum, causing infection and damage that could lead to long-term hearing loss. If you suspect that you have sustained hearing damage or loss, see a professional so they can determine your condition and prescribe a protocol that will help you to restore it.
Give your ears time to rest and recover
Our ears and auditory system are just like the rest of our body; they need time to rest and recover. If you are repeatedly exposing yourself to loud stimuli and loud environments, you need to take periodic breaks and rest your ears to avoid overstimulation and damage. For instance, if you work in a loud restaurant environment, do what you can to excuse yourself every so often and step outside for a quiet break. In doing so, you’ll be preserving your hearing and your health in ways that will be profoundly important later on.
An ounce of prevention
You know the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Thinking that you are invincible in your twenties is not an insurance policy against damage and hearing loss later. Repeated exposure to loud environments has been proven to cause damage to the ears and eventually, irreversible hearing loss. Do what you can to become informed about workplace safety policies when it comes to your hearing, and then take proper precautions to preserve and protect one of your most valuable assets—your ears.