Preventing Hearing Loss from Noise Pollution

Preventing Hearing Loss from Noise Pollution

Too much noise in the workplace can cause permanent and irreversible hearing loss to workers. The duration of exposure and the noise levels should be kept at a safe level at all times. Preventing hearing loss from noise pollution is incredibly easy, and the steps below will show you how to keep your ears from ringing.

Loud speakers can cause hearing loss

Image Source: Flickr

How workers are exposed
One of the most typical causes of hearing damage in workers is loud machinery or equipment. As a rule, if you have to shout to be heard by another person who is only a meter away from you, the noise level is already too much.


The risks
One of the most common occupational hazards is noise-induced hearing loss. A single explosion can instantly cause permanent and irreversible damage, but it’s usually the long-term exposure to excessive noise from things like machinery that does the most harm.


How to reduce the risks
There are various preventive measures that can be done to limit noise hazards. Below, the options are arranged in order of effectiveness:


Elimination or substitution
Substituting a safer process or equipment to fully eliminate the hazard is the most efficient type of control. A quieter machine or a process that is less noisy can be considered for use.


Engineering controls
Physical modification to the facility, machinery, and operation to lessen the noise levels are considered engineering controls. An acoustics engineer can help analyze which engineering controls to apply in the workplace. To maximize noise reduction, certain options can be combined together. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Can either the noise source or the workers be enclosed to keep the noise apart?
  • Can acoustics be used to soundproof the room?


Administrative controls
As an employer, you should offer a hearing loss prevention program that includes annual hearing tests for your employees working around constant hazardous noise.
Modifications should be made if necessary to the policies and regulations to limit exposure to noise hazards.  Exposure of workers to the hazard can be limited by cutting shift lengths or allowing them to work as far away as possible from the noise source. Posting warning signs and adding training programs to assure everyone is well-informed on how to limit the effects of noise pollution is something to consider as well.


Personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment is the least effective control of the four, but it is still effective when paired with one other control. Workers absolutely must wear the proper hearing protection equipment at all times.



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