At what point is your environment ‘harmfully loud’?
It’s easy to underestimate the point at which surrounding noise becomes damaging to your ears - too loud may be less loud than you think. As outlined below, the widely accepted ‘harmful’ level is 85 decibels and over:
In addition to noise created by the various tools used in your workplace, you need to be aware of the sudden, short and very loud noises that routinely occur throughout a working day. Metal falling on metal, hammers banging metal into place and other sudden noisy spikes can rise above the 85 decibel limit and are therefore likely to damage your hearing if your protection isn’t in place at all times.
As such, a good rule of thumb is to err on the side of caution: even if you feel your work environment only occasionally drifts beyond a harmful noise level, it is certainly worth wearing suitable hearing protection at every opportunity.
5 minutes can make all the difference!
Wearing your hearing protection 99% of the time significantly reduces your level of protection when working around harmful noise levels of 85 decibels or above. Just 5 minutes of carelessness a day is equivalent to wearing virtually no protection at all.
Moreover, 90% usage is deemed unacceptable in that it offers you virtually no protection and will in turn leave you very susceptible to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). This is caused by continuous damage to the ear’s hair cells until the eventual death of those cells; it’s worth noting that once these are gone, they never grow back.
We’re sure the value of ear protection has been preached to you countless times. However, this particular detail cannot be stressed enough: if you’re not wearing it all the time, it’s as if you aren’t wearing it at all.
So make sure you’re 100% protected and call out others in your workplace if they ever seem to be slacking on the hearing safety front. After all, it’s in your best interests for their hearing to be sharp enough to pick-up on your quick wit and humour, right?