October 2020 Safety Meeting Topics
Back in the day, I had an RCA Portable 8 Track Player. It didn’t have a headphone jack but as you can see in the image it hinged in the middle. So, I would set it on the floor on its ends like a tent, lie down on my back and slide my head in between the two speakers. Waa-lah, modified headphones. I’d insert Machine Head by Deep Purple and rock out at full volume to Highway Star, Smoke on the Water, Lazy, and Space Trucking. And of course, it would auto-repeat, it was an 8 track tape!
In addition to the obvious inconveniences listed above, everybody in the house could hear it. My dad would come upstairs and yell at me “I don’t want to hear it” and “I want you to be able to keep hearing so knock it off.”
While my love for loud rock and roll music hasn’t changed much, my wife is convinced my hearing is gone. That brings up a good question.
Can you hear as well as you used to?
Many workers complain they cannot, and statistics show that they are right. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common occupational diseases and is the second-most self-reported occupational illness or injury.
We are all exposed to noises loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss. Noise at work, at home, in our surrounding environment, and of course the ever-present earbud that is so comfortable we can forget it is even still in our ear.
Many of us are continuously exposed to noises loud enough that it can lead to permanent hearing loss. And, according to the Environmental, Health and Safety Data Base (EHSDB):
“It's not just hearing loss. Studies have shown that where consistent exposure to 95 decibels occurs, there exists a serious threat to the cardiovascular system, more specifically an elevation in systolic blood pressure (hypertension), digestive, respiratory, allergenic and musculus-skeletal disorders, as well as disorientation and reduction of eye focus, potentially leading to the increase of accidents and injuries. The negative effects associated with long term hearing loss include decreased ability or inability to communicate, irritability, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and frustration with personal/familial relationships.”note 1
A table from the EHSDB website lists permissible noise exposures:
Interesting facts, especially when you consider that an individual with a personal listening device and earbuds rocking it out at full volume, according to the CDC, is being exposed to between 105 & 110 decibels. note 2
Hearing loss is permanent. The best way to avoid hearing loss is to get ahead of the game and protect yourself. This means using the right hearing loss protective equipment in the workplace and making better choices in our personal lives to reduce noise levels, like playing music at 60% volume which usually equates to 80 decibels, which is within permissible safe noise ranges.
October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. For your health and hearing, we encourage you to take a minute and share with your employees, friends, and family the importance of protecting their hearing.
note 1: http://www.ehsdb.com/hearing-protection.php
note 2: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hearing_loss/what_noises_cause_hearing_loss.html