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How To Protect Your Hearing from On-The-Job Hubbub

Have you ever wondered why your ears were ringing? At noise levels of 100-120 decibels, consistently, you may eventually develop hearing loss.

Those levels are considerably higher than the average 85 decibels at which the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires hearing protection for employees exposed to them for eight hours or more, a regulation that applies to a wide swath of manufacturing facilities and machine shops.

In real-world terms, 85 decibels is about the level of a lawn mower, vacuum cleaner or earbuds set at a volume of 70 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. It’s loud enough that you have to raise your voice for someone 3 feet away to hear you, and on-the-job exposure to that volume is somewhat common.

Roughly 22 million U.S. workers experience loud noises each year, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and 58% of hearing-loss cases reported by employees were linked to their occupations. The risks for manufacturing workers are particularly high, according to government statistics. About 18 percent of them have hearing problems, compared with just 12 percent of U.S. workers on average, according to the institute.

Throughout this blog, there is discussion about different ways to prevent hearing loss through ear protection. MSC offers many different solutions so that your jobsite can be proactive against any irreversible damage. MSC is available to the public sector on a competitively solicited and publicly awarded contract through OMNIA Partners

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Identify Hazardous Noise Levels

While employers operating worksites with hazardous noise levels are required to monitor them and provide personal protective equipment to workers if needed, there are two simple ways employees themselves can identify potential risks.

“First, if you have to raise your voice to talk to someone who is an arm’s length away, then the noise is likely to be hazardous,” the CDC says. “Second, if your ears are ringing or sounds seem dull or flat after leaving a noisy place, then you probably were exposed to hazardous noise.”

Thankfully, MSC offers a variety of hearing protection devices to keep your hearing protected. Getting the right fit is essential to achieving the needed amount of ear protection, the level of attention required typically varies from job to job based on the noise level of the equipment and the environment of the job. 

Ear Protection Fitting 

Ensuring that ear protection fits correctly is valuable to employers because it helps to identify problems that might occur before they actually do. Another important factor of correctly fitting ear protection is hygiene. Since some devices slide into the ear canal, dirty ones can potentially lead to infection. MSC offers solutions for your ear protection to proactive and hygienic, in addition to providing protective earmuffs that fit over the ear rather than earplugs, which, for example, accommodates for workers who must wear the devices over their hard hats. 

A correct fit is CRUCIAL to ear protection because workers are more likely to remove ill-fitting devices rather than if they are a comfortable fit. 

A one-size-fits-all philosophy doesn’t work when determining required noise-level reduction, either: Simply distributing hearing protection systems that block out all sound for everyone isn’t viable. The goal is to provide the lowest level of noise reduction while still provides safety in their specific work environment. 

You Can't Get It Back 

While many people assume their hearing is simply growing worse because they’re getting older, aging generally doesn’t impair hearing before at least age 60, according to the CDC.

People who are exposed to loud noises and don’t protect their hearing, however, begin to lose it much earlier. 

“Looking after your ears is unfortunately something you don’t think about until there’s a problem,” Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay, told the Daily Mirror in an interview. “I wish I’d thought about it earlier.”

About MSC and OMNIA Partners 

MSC is a global leader in supplying metalworking and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) products and services. With over two million products, MSC has gained a reputation for its superior quality and service. OMNIA Partners is your trusted ally in the purchasing process, dedicated to optimizing procurement for your organization. Discover a better way to buy with free membership.  OMNIA Partners is proud to offer solutions through MSC, which is also offered on OPUS, an ecommerce platform that provides public sector and nonprofit agencies access to hundreds of competitively solicited, publicly awarded contracts. 

*Read original blog from MSC here.