Can your work environment give you hearing damage or loss? According to the CDC, over 11% of the working population has a hearing difficulty, and nearly 1 in 4 cases are work-related. While industries such as construction and event venues are known for loud noises, other jobs associated with hearing loss may surprise you. Audiology on Call, top hearing care experts in Atlanta, encourages you to check your workplace for noise hazards, take the proper steps to prevent hearing loss, and treat hearing loss you may already have.
What is Considered a Noise Hazard?
Noise hazards are classified as any sound over 85 decibels (dB) for 8 hours or more a day, regardless of the industry or environment. For every additional 3 decibels, exposure time to become hazardous gets cut in half. Additionally, exposure to ototoxic chemicals can cause hearing damage even in a quiet environment. For reference, here are some common noise hazards you may hear in or out of the workplace and their noise levels:
- Motorcycle: 95 dB
- Rock Concert: 105-110 dB
- Firecrackers: 140-150 dB
What are the Most Common Workplace Environments for Hearing Loss?
While hearing loss can occur in any workplace, some work environments pose a higher risk than others. You may already know that construction and music environments pose a risk of hearing loss, but did you know that dentists and elementary school teachers are also some of the top people at risk? Here are the top 8 professions that cause hearing loss, according to the Cleveland Clinic:
- Factory workers: Factory noise is the number one cause of work-related hearing loss. Luckily, OSHA has many protections in place for factory workers.
- Entertainment venue workers: The voices of many fans shouting and cheering is a big noise hazard, especially in a closed stadium or dome.
- Musicians: While rock music is famous for causing hearing loss, professional musicians risk hearing loss from any genre of music and any instrument. If you practice several hours a day, especially in a reverberant environment, you are putting your hearing at risk.
- Farmers: Many may think that since farms are located far from town, they are free of noise, but farm equipment can certainly damage your hearing. In fact, almost 75% of farmers experience hearing loss with age. Tractors with open windows or without cabs are the biggest cause of hearing loss for farmers.
- Dental workers: Perhaps the most surprising profession on this list, dental workers who operate drills run the risk of high-frequency hearing loss. This type of hearing loss leads to difficulty hearing consonant sounds such as s, t, and v.
- Construction workers: Construction work includes many types of noise hazards, and just being near a construction site can cause hearing damage. Some causes of noise hazards include tile-cutting, air guns, and jackhammers.
- Coaches and game officials: Games and matches for any sport bring their own unique set of noise hazards, such as blowing whistles or shooting a gun to start a track race.
- Elementary school teachers and cafeteria workers: Even one young child can be very loud, and the steady stream of many children’s voices puts teachers and other school workers at risk for hearing loss. This is especially true at lunchtime, where many children talk all at once in an indoor environment and haven’t quite learned to use their “indoor voices.”
How can I Prevent Hearing Loss at the Workplace?
If you work in a profession or work environment with a high risk for hearing loss, there are some precautions you should take to protect your hearing. Wear hearing protection when exposed to high decibel noise hazards. Use foam earplugs, not homemade cotton ones and make sure the earplugs fit properly. Take frequent breaks during work and increase the distance between yourself and the source of the noise. Place a barrier between yourself and the noise if possible, and keep your equipment well maintained and lubricated.
If your job exposes you to chemicals that could damage your hearing, use a less toxic or non-toxic chemical. Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including gloves and eye protection and use a respirator if necessary. Follow all chemical safety instructions.
What if I Already Suspect Hearing Loss?
If you suspect you may be experiencing hearing loss due to noise hazards at your workplace, you need to see an audiology professional to have your hearing evaluated. After your evaluation, the professional will discuss the treatment options that are right for you. Treatments offered by Audiology on Call, the top hearing care experts in Atlanta, may include hearing aids or tinnitus management. If no permanent hearing loss is detected, your audiology professional can recommend ways for you to protect your hearing.
Prevent Workplace Hearing Loss with Help From Audiology on Call, Your Top Hearing Care Experts in Atlanta
Don’t let hearing loss prevent you from doing your job! Audiology on Call sends audiology professionals right to your door to conduct a hearing assessment at home. Our quality hearing aids are much more accurate than over-the-counter options and our low overheads will give you major savings. Contact Us Now to Schedule a Hearing Assessment or Call Us at (833) 244-3275 to schedule your appointment today.