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Hearing Loss - Why Paying Attention to Workplace Can Prevent Impairment to Your Ears


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Different people have different jobs, entailing different levels of stress, enduring different intensities of workload, and definitely being exposed to diverse environments, each with their own levels of sound or noise.

While we are at work, it is inevitable that we are exposed to the myriad sounds and noises in the workplace. Even in the most enclosed corporate offices, noise may be as loud and intense as those outside in the street. The sounds of telephones ringing, fax machines beeping, copiers whizzing, colleagues engaged in talks with their respective clients, and of course the buzzing sounds of those who have nothing to do yet.

These may be as noisy as those who work outdoors like repairmen and construction workers. There are even those who are exposed to far worse unrelenting noise barrage like airports and heavy construction sites.

A human has a normal sound level threshold of around 60 to 70 decibels. This unit is the measurement of the intensity of sound that our ears receive and is subjected to our eardrums. For normal workplaces, the intensity does not usually go beyond 80 decibels, which is still at the upper limit of human hearing threshold. Anything higher than this, like say 85 degrees may have an effect on the hearing over time due to long exposure.

This long exposure has a significant correlation with the nature of work of a person because normally, that person is exposed to the same amount of sound for several hours. Those who are in airports and working on heavy machinery like pneumatic drills and such are subjected to around 130 and 100 decibels, respectively. This is also present with those people who frequent rock concerts, especially when they are situated in front of the loud speakers, who at some point of the program may experience as high as 150 decibels, which is already way beyond the maximum tolerance.

These people who are working in an environment with more than 90 decibels for a long period of time are advised to use measures to prevent complications and the possible loss of hearing due to negligence of proper health.

There is still no better solution to possible hearing loss than preventing it from happening rather than stopping it from progressing into a worse state. There are already laws and provisions in many countries requiring employers to make sure that the health of their workers, especially those who are in a high risk noise situation are well protected, provided, and educated regarding safety measures and precautions with the sound intensities.

Usually, the general provision is to equip the workers with hearing protectors specially designed to cover the whole ear part that can detect and funnel in sounds towards the inner ear. It may be a combination of earplugs, earmuffs, or both for better protection.

The earplugs serve as a direct buffer for sound that may pass through the earmuffs. The earmuffs then are responsible for the initial dampening of the first wave of sound intensity. These are supposed to be given by the employer to their employees upon beginning of the work contract in a job requiring such equipment.

Each ear protective gadget can effectively lower the sound intensity by as much as 20 to 30 decibels. An added earplug to an earmuff may reduce as much as 30 to 40 decibels combined, the former filtering low frequency and the latter high frequency. It doesn't necessarily mean that once that you are equipped with the necessary ear protection for your work, you may just stay there and take the brunt invincibly.

It is still suggested that even with those on, one has to veer away at the soonest possible moment, especially if there is nothing more to do. This would illustrate an airport guide wearing protective ear gear and is being exposed to a jet's shrieking engine noise of about at least 120 decibels. With about 80 to 90 decibels going through the ear after the protective gear, it would be wise for that airport guide to go back to a safer and quieter place after the airplane has taxied off.

It is best to choose your work and determine if the risks involved, including hearing loss is worth the compensation benefits. Find out more tips, causes and preventions for hearing loss at


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