Preventable Hearing Loss

Hearing loss due to high noise levels is irreversible. It cannot be corrected, even with surgery or hearing aids, but it is preventable.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) restricts your ability to hear high frequency sounds, communicate and understand speech, and may contribute to workplace accidents due to reduced ability to hear emergency sounds or warnings. Additionally, those affected by hearing loss may suffer psychological stress due to the inability to enjoy social activities or experience music, movies or other forms of entertainment. 

Noise is a concern in nearly any industrial setting. To offer workers protection against hearing damage, workplace noise limits have been established by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and other regulatory agencies.

If you are unsure whether or not your facility is in compliance, consider these rules of thumb: 

■ If your employees are exposed to noise levels at or above 85 dBA, as averaged over an 8-hour workday, you are required to have a hearing conservation program for your facility.

■ If you have to raise your voice to speak with someone three feet away, noise levels at your facility are probably at or above the OSHA action level of 85 dBA. 

St.Germain Collins can assist you with OSHA’s noise standard by providing services such as:

■ Personal noise exposure monitoring to determine whether a hearing conservation program is required.

■ Area noise monitoring and/or noise mapping to identify areas of the facility where hearing protection should be worn.

■ Spot checks of noise levels generated by pieces of machinery or tasks in order to make recommendations with regards to engineering controls prioritization.

■ Review of existing or development of new written hearing conservation programs.

■ Employee training.

For more information regarding OSHA standards or to schedule a compliance review, contact an EHS Specialist at 207-591-7000.

And don’t forget to protect yourself from noise at home – repeated exposure to activities such as loud lawn mowers, chainsaws, and hammering can cause long-term hearing damage.