Since 2003, the United Nations (UN) has promoted World Day for Safety and Health at Work annually. The goal is to draw people’s attention to workplace dangers. This day is observed and promoted by the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO), headquartered in Geneva.
The reason why hearing protection should be included on World Day for Safety and Health at Work is because hearing loss from accidents and incidents in the workplace are far too common. In most instances, it is also avoidable. In the past, many workers lost their hearing because of working in noisy environments, like cotton mills. They were so loud that workers developed a mimed language to communicate with each other across the floor. They had no idea about the dangers. Subsequently, most eventually lost their hearing. Their lives would have been very different had they used hearing protection.
In 2022, the story is very different because we are now aware of the noise-induced hearing loss. The onus must be on the employer to provide a safe working environment. If sound levels are dangerous, ear plugs or other hearing protection should always be provided.
“If sound levels are dangerous, ear plugs or other hearing protection should always be provided.”
Read more: 5 Loud Noises that could Damage your Hearing
When it comes to sound levels, there is often some confusion about what is considered too loud. The answer might be surprising. A balloon popping, DIY power tools, and even your kitchen juicer can put you at risk. To be safe, make it a rule to wear ear plugs, ear defenders, or some other form of hearing protection whenever there is foreground noise at a level higher than 70 dB.
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According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Sound is measured in decibels (dB). A whisper is about 30 dB, normal conversation is about 60 dB, and a motorcycle engine running is about 95 dB. Noise above 70 dB over a prolonged period of time may start to damage your hearing. Loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears.”
You can help protect your own hearing in the workplace and highlight any potential hearing loss dangers by downloading a free sound level meter (SLM) as an app for your smartphone. If in doubt, wear hearing protection, because once damaged, your hearing can not be recovered.
Read more: Safe listening: Protect your ears