Many jobs involve noise. From construction sites and factories, gardening roles to home renovators, carpentry to automation, loud power tools are crucial for getting the job done. However, for those who work in close proximity to these tools and machinery day in, day out, it can be detrimental to their hearing.
According to the Health and safety Executive (HSE), an estimated 17,000 workers had work-related hearing problems between 2017/18 and 2019/20. This is an estimate because the HSE states that: ‘There is limited information available on work-related noise induced hearing loss.’ This means that the numbers could be higher.
If you’re an employee who operates loud machinery all day, it’s important that you know how to prioritise hearing and protect your workers or yourself. Here are some tips to help.
What are the riskiest jobs for your hearing?
For workers in the UK, there are Control of Noise at Work regulations that set legal limits on noise exposure in the workplace. According to these regulations, employers must prevent or reduce the risks of overexposure to noise at work.
As an employee, it’s worth being aware of this as you can check to see if your employer is assessing the risk levels and taking steps to reduce noise levels.
However, there are certain professions that are noisy by nature. This means that you could find that your hearing is affected after spending a prolonged period working in these roles.
Some of the most hazardous roles include working in construction, manufacturing or in a factory, and agriculture. All three of these industries require heavy-duty machinery and tools that are noisy.
However, there are roles that you might not consider to be a risk that can, over time, have a negative impact on your hearing. Teaching, for instance, is a role that involves days spent in rooms filled with high-pitched voices. This is especially the case if you’re a nursery teacher and is also something that affects music teachers. In fact, working in the music industry is also hazardous for your hearing.
Types of hearing protection
As mentioned previously, it’s the role of your employer to make sure noise levels are manageable and to reduce the risks to their staff. To do this, they should introduce protection for employees’ ears. Ear defenders come in a range of styles and with different functions, but primarily, their role is to cancel out the noise, cushion the sound, and use the noise sensor to detect noise levels.
There are different types available, such as ones that attach to helmets, headband-style ones, and earplugs. The type that your manager will choose will depend on factors such as the role you’re in and what suits the workplace setting.
So, if you’re a construction site worker, you might need one with a microphone built in so you can speak to colleagues. If you’re a teacher, you might need ear plugs.
Whatever role you’re in, if you’re concerned about the impact of your job on your hearing, speak to your manager to see if they can invest in protection for your ears.