Protect Your Hearing!
Noise is one of the most common workplace health hazards that can lead to permanent hearing loss in industrial and manufacturing environments such as food processing plants.
What are sound and noise?
Sound is what we hear.
Noise can be best defined as unpleasant and unwanted sound.
When you clap your hands, the surrounding air vibrates in the form of ‘sound’ waves, much like waves on water. Sound may be pleasant to one person but be unbearable noise to someone else. Certain music can be pleasurable sound to one person and an annoying noise to another. In either case, it can be hazardous to a person's hearing if the sound is loud, and if employees are exposed for long periods of time.
Does noise bother everyone?
Most people say they become accustomed to the noise that is part of their everyday environment. That does not mean their hearing is not being damaged by continuous exposure to noise; it may mean their hearing is already damaged.
Noise causes hearing damage even though you do not feel any pain. It happens so slowly that most people may not be aware they are suffering from hearing loss. Some people compensate for their hearing loss by turning up the radio, stereo, or television.
How can I tell if my workplace is too loud?
If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, your workplace may have a noise problem.
Do people have to raise their voices for you to hear them?
Do you work in noisy environments and have ringing in your ears at the end of your shift?
Do you find when you return home from work that you must increase the volume on your car radio higher than you did when you went to work?
If you have worked in a noisy workplace for years, do you have problems understanding conversations at parties, restaurants, or in crowds where there are many voices and ‘competing’ noises?
What can be done about noise in the workplace?
Remember that your hearing is at stake.
If you suspect that you are regularly being exposed to high sound levels, inform your employer, your union, or your health and safety committee or representative.
Your employer must maintain your noise exposure level at a level not exceeding 87 dBA, either by:
Using engineering devices to reduce the noise; or
Shortening the duration of exposure and providing you with adequate hearing protection.
Where technology cannot adequately control the problem, personal hearing protection (such as ear plugs) can be used.
Personal protection should be considered as an interim measure while other means of reducing workplace noise are being explored and implemented.