National Protect Your Hearing Month

Topics: Loss Control

Summary: October is National Protect Your Hearing Month, reminding employers of the importance of protecting their workers from damaging, permanent hearing loss that can occur in the workplace. Discover loss control measures employers can take for noise and hearing protection in the workplace.

Hearing Loss Prevention in the Workplace

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in the United States. According to the CDC, an estimated 40 million Americans aged 20-69 have noise-induced hearing loss, and even those who report “excellent to good” hearing already have hearing damage. As individuals lose their hearing, mental decline, isolation and depression often follow, leading to a lower quality of life.

Once hearing loss has occurred, the damage is irreversible. It’s very important at that point to take measures to ensure the damage does not worsen. National Protect Your Hearing Month is held every October to raise awareness about noise-induced hearing loss and share the steps people can take to protect their hearing.

Why is Hearing Protection Important in the Workplace?

Noise is one of the most prevalent occupational health problems. About 24% of workers experience hearing loss due to occupational exposures such as loud noises or ototoxic chemicals like solvents, metals, asphyxiants and more. Twenty-two million workers are exposed to hazardous noise every year, while 10 million are exposed to chemicals that can damage their hearing.

Workplace hearing loss can happen instantaneously, such as when a worker is suddenly exposed to a loud noise like an explosion. It can also occur gradually, like when employees are subjected to high-noise situations over time, such as machinery constantly grinding, cutting or sanding. Noise will continue to damage nerve endings in the inner ear, and the end result is permanent hearing loss that cannot be corrected through medications or surgery.

The good news for employers is that occupational hearing loss is preventable. But, first, it’s important to recognize the signs that noise protection is necessary for employees. 

noise protection for employees
Studies have been conducted to determine what levels of noise are most damaging to workers, as well as whether early detection of hearing loss was possible. Researchers discovered that the most hearing loss occurred in the 12.5 kHz frequency range regardless of worker age. They also found that workers with exposure to higher levels of cumulative noise were more likely to have some hearing loss.

Noise Control Measures in the Workplace

Workers in every industry can be at risk for occupational hearing loss. However, some industries have more exposure to high noise levels, such as the construction and manufacturing industries. And, if workplace conditions result in an employee’s hearing loss, the employee may be eligible for workers’ compensation to help cover the cost of their medical treatments.

Employers wondering how to prevent hearing loss in the workplace can utilize the NIOSH Sound Level Meter app to determine if noise levels are endangering their employees. This smartphone app is designed to help both employers and their employees ensure that their hearing is protected and that noise levels in the workplace are at acceptable levels.

Additionally, employers can implement workplace safety measures to help reduce workers’ exposure to loud noises, such as:
  • Continuously test and monitor noise levels in the workplace to ensure a safe environment
  • Schedule frequent breaks from activities with loud noises and reduce an individual worker’s time in noisy areas
  • Invest in quieter equipment if possible, and keep machinery well-maintained
  • Install noise barriers between workers and the loud equipment
  • Ensure employees who listen to music are doing so at a safe volume level
  • Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as headphones or earplugs for workers who must consistently work in loud environments and train employees on the proper use of such PPE
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Loss Control Services from AmTrust Financial

AmTrust’s Loss Control Department offers a variety of workplace safety resources to ensure employers understand how to provide a safe, healthy work environment for their employees. From industry resources to streaming training videos on a variety of topics, we are here to help protect your company’s most valuable asset – your employees. For more information about our loss control services, please contact us today.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.

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