by: Holly B. Martin
Source: MSC Industrial Direct
Do you know the noise level in the workplace and if it is damaging workers’ ears? From sound-level meters, NRR and noise-dampening materials, get a better understanding of the tools and PPE needed to avoid permanent ear damage.
Ear damage caused by exposure to high noise levels at work can be insidious–it may start out gradually, and if not caught early, can result in permanent hearing loss that is not fully evident until a worker retires.
“Hearing loss from noise is very slow, but very cumulative,” says Dr. Cheryl Nadeau, AuD, senior occupational audiologist at Workplace Integra. “The hair cells [sensory cells] within your cochlea do not ever forget that they have been assaulted by noise.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officially recognized the need to protect workers from noise exposure when it published its Hearing Conservation Standard (29 CFR 1910.95) back in 1983. Since that time, scientific studies and advances in testing and hearing protection technologies have prompted further standards and guidance from OSHA and other agencies, such as the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH).
What Are the Health Effects of Noise in Manufacturing?
In addition to causing permanent hearing loss, loud noise is known to negatively affect the entire body, actually increasing blood pressure, changing blood chemistry and decreasing productivity, Nadeau says.
“Noise puts the body into a fight or flight mode, which can wreak havoc on your hormones,” she says. “Studies have shown that people in a high-noise production area exhibit more anti-social behavior and are less likely to help one another because of the seemingly never-ending noise.”
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