Protect Your Hearing

Mar 27, 2018 6:59 PM

In 1981, OSHA implemented new requirements to protect all workers in general industry (e.g. the manufacturing and the service sectors) for employers to implement a Hearing Conservation Program where workers are exposed to a time weighted average noise level of 85 dBA or higher over an 8 hour work shift.

In 1986 RONALD REAGAN, proclaimed the month of May as Better Hearing and Speech Month, and and called upon the people of the United States “to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

With these two actions, the US emphasized the importance of our sense of hearing as a contribution to our quality of life. The public’s awareness of the importance of protecting hearing is working to reduce hearing loss. According to The National Institutes of Health, Among adults aged 20-69, the overall annual prevalence of hearing loss dropped slightly from 16 percent (28.0 million) in the 1999-2004 period to 14 percent (27.7 million) in the 2011–2012 period.4

However, in recent years there has been increasing concern with the popularity of the ubiquitous ear buds. Ear phones themselves will not cause damage, but the ability to isolate sound to ones self tend to lead to an increase in volume.

One in 10 Americans has a hearing loss that affects his or her ability to understand normal speech. Age-related hearing loss is the most common, but  hearing loss caused by excessive noise exposure is the next most common factor. It is important to understand the effects of noise exposure, particularly because such exposure is avoidable.

Wearing hearing protection is the best way to avoid damage, especially if you must work in an excessively noisy environment. You should also wear them when using power tools, noisy yard equipment, or firearms, or riding a motorcycle or snowmobile. 

People are often concerned about their ability to hear speech, or faulty machinery with hearing protection. However, just as sunglasses help vision in very bright light, so hearing protectors can enhance speech understanding in very noisy places. Even in a quiet setting, a normal-hearing person wearing hearing protectors should be able to understand a regular conversation.

Hearing protectors do slightly reduce the ability of those with damaged hearing or poor comprehension of language to understand normal conversation. However, it is essential that persons with impaired hearing wear protectors to prevent further damage to their hearing.

Hearing protection is easy to find and varies in expense from mere pennies for the foam inserts, to $10- $30 for over the ear headsets.  For people who are regularly in noise environments, we recommend custom made ear plugs. These are comfortable than foam inserts, and less cumbersome than muffs.

We at Hearswell care about your hearing, and offer a full line of custom earplugs. Please take care to protect yourself from excessive sound.