What Have You Heard about Hearing Loss?
Occupational noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is an overlooked illness that can affect an employee’s performance and safety at work. This is why OSHA and the USDOL are aggressively working to protect employees from injuries and ailments from occurring in the workplace. Below is information that businesses should be aware of about hearing loss.
How does the ear work?
Sound waves enter the outer ear, creating vibrations on the ear drum that is then transmitted to the middle and inner ear. Inside the ear are three bones that are the keys to hearing; malleus (hammer), incus (anvil), and the stapes (stir ups). These three bones work to amplify and transmit sound to the inner ear generated by vibrations. Once the sound is sent to the cochlea (a snail-like structure that is filled with fluid and lined with cells with very fine and tiny hairs) sound will create vibrations that rapidly move the hairs to convert it to nerve impulses which give us the things we hear today.
Warning signs of hearing loss
There are three basic warning signs that can show if a person is beginning to show effects from hazardous noise.
- You have a ringing or humming in your ears when leaving work
- From an arm’s length away a coworker has to shout at you just to be heard
- After leaving work you experience temporary hearing loss
How quickly a person loses hearing is based relatively off the amount of time exposed to the noise, intensity of the sound and how often they are subjected to the hazard.
How loud is too loud?
OSHA has set legal limits on noise exposure in the workplace. The limits they have created are based upon an eight hour work day. OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) is 90 dBA for ALL workers on the average eight hour a day model and never under any circumstance should noise exceed 140 dBA. However, OSHA has implemented the five dBA exchange rule. This rule states, that for every increase in noise by 5 dBA the amount of time a person can be expose to the noise needs to be cut in half.
Example: OSHA permits eight hours of exposure to 90 dBA if it increases by ten dBA the PEL is reduced to two hours at that noise level.
At AMI Environmental, Doug Marshall and his team’s main goal is to assist businesses and create a safe working environment, adhering to government regulations. With decades worth of experience as a certified Industry Hygienist our clients not only avoid lawsuits and potential catastrophes but the peace of mind knowing their employees will be protect as possible from harm. Doug and his team will work to establish and maintain a safe work environment, including surveying your facility for risks; provide testing within your facility; maintain testing protocol; and assist in the recording process. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Doug Marshall at email@example.com.