Approximately 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work, according to NIOSH. Hearing damage caused by exposure to loud noise may occur long before changes in hearing are perceived.
Lost hearing due to noise is permanent and cannot be reversed. NIOSH recommends taking the following precautions to prevent permanent hearing loss in the workplace:
- Use feasible noise controls such as enclosures, coated chains and isolators.
Maintain and lubricate equipment.
- Inform management about worn or broken noise controls and noisy machinery.
Clean and maintain fan silencers.
- Replace or repair defective mufflers.
- Use remote controls for machine operation.
- Limit time in noisy areas by rotating with co-workers.
- Turn off equipment when not in use.
- Wear hearing protection such as expandable foam plugs, canal caps or earmuffs when exposure to noise is unavoidable.