Hearing loss as a result of excessive noise is quite common, especially in workplaces or during sports activities such as target shooting. Based on various studies, many people suffer from tinnitus, deafness, and other ear conditions due to exposure to extreme noise. It is worth to note that once the hearing loss happens, it is not possible to restore through medical treatments. However, it is easy to prevent hearing loss by staying away from the noisy sources or plummeting the exposure to noise.
When your ears are exposed to noise, the hair cells in the ear may be damaged. This can cause a temporary hearing loss whereby the hearing will recover after some time. If the exposure to excessive noise continues, the ears may suffer from permanent hearing problems. Permanent hearing loss occurs when a person is constantly exposed to extremely high levels of noise over a prolonged period of time. Gradually, the high frequencies cause a severe hearing loss in both ears but you may notice it after a few years.
If you do not reduce or remove the excessive noise exposure, the hearing loss will carry on. Before you realize you are suffering hearing loss, it will be too late. One of the main symptoms of hearing loss is communication difficulties, either when talking to another person or when communicating through a phone. Additionally, noise induced hearing damage makes it difficult for a person to catch sounds such as ‘s’, ‘d’, and ‘t’, meaning that the person will confuse similar words.
Even though some people say hearing loss is gradual, sometimes it is not. It can happen when an individual is exposed to a very high sound level for a short period of time. For instance, a loud blast or gunshot can cause permanent hearing damage. There you may have to look at the earmuff comparison for hearing protection before you decide.
Damaging Noise Level
The level of noise that can cause hearing loss may depend on an individual and the duration of exposure. However, there are guidelines and regulations for the maximum noise level that require wearing hearing protection. If you are in an environment where you can talk to a person two meters from you without shouting, the noise may not be damaging. Shouting to someone who is two meters away due to the background noise means that the level of noise can cause hearing loss.
Sometimes, exposing ears to lower noise levels for a long period of time may cause temporary hearing loss. If you realize you cannot hear properly a few hours after work or you can hear ringing sounds in your ears, it is a clear indication that you exposed the ears to high noise levels.
Noise levels are measured in decibels usually referred to as dB. The decibel scale not only measures noise but also shows the pitches and levels that have potential effects on ears. A quiet room has 20 dB while a normal conversation has about 60 dB. However, an aircraft will produce around 140dB. This is a high level of noise that most people may feel painful to listen to, though some people may also find lower noise levels too painful to listen to.
The Law about Noise Level Regulations at Work
It is a requirement for every employer to protect the employees from excessive exposure to noise. The regulations require employers to review the risks to employees from noise, and also reduce their exposure to noise. In case the employer is not capable of reducing the noise level due to the nature of the job, it is a requirement to give out hearing protection to the employees. However, the legal limits on noise exposure must not be exceeded. It is also the mandate of the employers to offer instructions and training to the employees on how to prevent exposure to excessive noise levels and how to use hearing protection.
The employer should take certain actions based on the regulations. The actions are for the lower noise level exposure of 80 dB and upper noise level exposure of 85dB. The action for the lower level entails giving the employees information about the risk and the measures to prevent hearing loss. According to hearing protection regulations, the employer should provide ear protectors that are in good condition. In the situations where the noise level exceeds 85dB, the law states that ear protectors should be worn. The employer should ensure this regulation is adhered to by all employees in accordance with the provisions of the law.