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Noise-induced hearing loss can be caused by prolonged exposure to any loud sounds over 85 dB. February 3, 2015 By Michael Eldridge Even though OSHA provides clear and established standards for noise exposure and a variety of options for hearing protection exist to help adhere to these workplace requirements, hearing protection is still an often overlooked occupational hazard.
As a result of inadequate hearing protection in the workplace, approximately 14% of all occupational illnesses in recent years involved hearing loss, and that includes about 23,000 cases of permanent hearing impairment. Hearing loss from high levels of noise is often permanent, and neither surgery nor hearing devices can correct this type of hearing loss. The best way to reduce the potential for hearing loss in the workplace, and to avoid the problems mentioned above, is to create an understanding of noise exposure in the workplace, to adhere to the standards and guidelines provided, and to make appropriate hearing protection available to workers. OSHA provides a chart telling the hours per day a person can be exposed to a certain sound level before risking hearing damage.
Determining whether or not noise is a problem in the workplace is the onus of the employer who must determine the length of time and exposure for employees. Hearing protection in the workplace should bring noise exposure levels within acceptable limits as determined by OSHA. Earmuffs: Available in a variety of designs and features, earmuffs provide protection by covering the entire ear.
In conjunction with providing appropriate hearing protection for employees, employers can also utilize various noise controls to help reduce, and in some cases eliminate, hazardous exposure.
Engineering controls include reducing sound exposure by modifying or replacing equipment and by making physical changes at the source or in the path of the noise.

Reducing the potential for hearing loss in the workplace requires a combination effort between proper hearing protection and noise control efforts.
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In fact, about 22 million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise levels each year in the United States. Most cases of occupational hearing loss, about 82%, came from workers in the manufacturing workforce. Even short periods of exposure, especially when repeated and prolonged, lead to permanent hearing loss.
In addition, using noise controls as a first line of defense can significantly help reduce hazardous exposure and limit or minimize risk to hearing.
A good rule of thumb is that if a worker has to raise his voice to talk to someone only an arm’s length away, the environment likely has damaging noise levels. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also recommends maximum noise exposure levels slightly different than the OSHA standards.
To help in that effort, OSHA requires implementing a “Hearing Conservation Program” for workplaces “where workers are exposed to a time weighted average noise level of 85 dBA.” When that determination is made, employers must then provide the appropriate hearing protection for exposed workers. The Howard Leight Series of Earplugs provides multiple examples of these various options, and they can be purchased by the pair or by the box. Options include dielectric, behind-the-ear, and folding styles as well as multi-position, sport and radio earmuffs.

Just as too little protection can damage ears, too much protection can lead to communication breakdown and increase potential for other safety hazards.
Administrative controls include adjusting timing of when noisy equipment is used, limiting access to noise equipment, and providing quiet areas for employees. Likewise, these efforts are best carried out through the partnering of the employer and the employee as they work together to determine the best combination of options for each person and situation. He's a US Marine Veteran who's particularly passionate about protective eyewear and helping people learn about vision safety. In addition to the potential for hearing loss, chronic exposure to loud noise often leads to ringing in the ears (tinnitus), causes physical and psychological stress, reduces productivity and interferes with communication channels. Other factors involve whether or not an employee moves between work areas with different noise levels, if noises come from multiple sources at once and if noises are constant as opposed to impulse such as with nail guns and punch presses. Other indications include ringing or humming in ears and experiencing temporary hearing changes after leaving work.
Again, the Howard Leight Series of Ear Muffs provides a terrific line of earmuffs with these options and more available for hearing protection.
In his spare time he enjoys target shooting, fishing, camping with his family and watching Detroit Tigers baseball.

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