Hearing Loss Is Irreversible - Protecting Your Hearing Is Critical

It’s no secret that exposure to excessive noise can damage hearing, but just how much noise is too much? The decibel level of the average conversation is about 60. A subway is roughly 90 decibels.  And, interestingly, both a rock concert and jackhammer clock in at 140 decibels. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that, for unprotected ears, the maximum decibel exposure for 8 hours should be no more than 90. And for every 5-decibel increase, the exposure time is cut in half. That means, that the maximum exposure for 140 decibels is 28 seconds! 

If ears are unprotected, loud noise begins to destroy nerve endings in the inner ear.  If exposed for an extended period of time, these nerve endings are completely destroyed.  As the number of nerve endings decreases, so does hearing – and there is no way to reverse the damage.  The good news is that hearing loss is avoidable, even if you work in excessively noisy conditions.  Simply using hearing protection prevents unwanted hearing loss.

There is a variety of hearing protection available to suit the needs of the work environment and the comfort of the wearer.  Earplugs are small inserts that fit into the outer ear canal.  There are earplugs now on the market made of ultra-soft low-pressure foam that provides superior comfort and fit.  Earmuffs are another great option for ear protection.  These are adjustable for the individual wearer and some are even designed to mount directly on a hard hat.  As an added bonus, while all of these units protect the user’s hearing, they also enhance the worker’s ability to hear conversation while using them. Think of the way sunglasses help eyes in very bright light. Hearing protectors enhance speech understanding in the same manner.  So there is virtually no downside to wearing hearing protection.