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Apr 21 2017
10:05:00 AM

Safety Tip of the Week

Noise is unwanted sound that can affect job performance, safety, and your health. Psychological effects of noise include annoyance and disruption of concentration. Physical effects include loss of hearing, pain, nausea, and interference with communications when the exposure is severe.

Hearing protection is essential when noise exposures can't be controlled at their source or sufficient distance cannot be achieved between you and the source. Both earplugs and earmuffs provide a physical barrier that reduces inner ear noise levels and prevent hearing loss from occurring. However, people often resist wearing these or use them incorrectly.

Employees resist wearing hearing protection more than any other type of personal protective equipment. One reason is, they don't think they really need it. But hearing loss occurs so gradually (even in intense exposures) that by the time you notice it, irreversible damage has already occurred. Another reason for not wearing hearing protection is that it can feel uncomfortable. Sometimes workers "spring" the muffs so they don't seal properly against the head or snip off the inner portion of ear plugs leaving only the outer end to fool their supervisor. If you feel the need to do this, see your supervisor about obtaining a different type or style that fits you correctly and comfortably.

Slight initial discomfort may be expected when a good seal between the surface of the skin and the surface of the ear protector is made. The amount of protection you obtain depends on obtaining a good seal and even a small leak can substantially reduce the effectiveness of the protector. Remember to check the seal several times each day. Protectors, especially ear plugs, have a tendency to work loose as a result of talking or chewing and must be resealed occasionally.

Three factors may be used to determine the level of noise:

  1. If it is necessary for you to speak in a very loud voice or shout directly into the ear of a person in order to be understood, it is likely that the exposure limit for noise is being exceeded.

  2. If you have heard noises and ringing noises in your ears at the end of the workday, you are being exposed to too much noise.

  3. If speech or music sounds muffled to you after leaving work, but sounds fairly clear in the morning when you return to work, there is no doubt about your being exposed to noise levels that can eventually cause a partial loss of hearing that can become permanent.

If any of these conditions exist, a safety professional, using a sound level meter, should measure the noise level at various work areas. He or she can then determine whether the exposure is great enough to require personal protection.

Here's how to protect your hearing:

Prevention begins with identifying noise sources and evaluating workers' exposures to find out if noise exposure is hazardous. When a hazard is found, employers are required to make changes to reduce or eliminate the noise hazard and educate the workforce about noise and hearing conservation.

Noise reduction rating (NRR)

If you are using an air tool where the level of noise exposure is 100 dB and you are wearing earplugs with an NRR 33dB, your level of exposure would not be reduced to 67 dB.

Instead, to determine the actual amount of decibel deduction applied (when decibels are measured dBA which is the most common), you take the NRR number (in dB), subtract seven, and then divide by two.

NRR Change – example:

Hear today gone tomorrow...use your hearing protection!! 



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