How Employees Can Protect Their Hearing at Work



Sound is produced as a result of an object vibrating. That vibration produces waves of energy which travel through air or water and into your ears. If those waves are too powerful, though, they can cause damage to the ear. Such loud noise can originate from workplace sirens, heavy machinery, generators, or combustion engines. Prolonged exposure to those noises can injure the delicate inner ear structures, causing Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL).

A study on workers in auto parts factories in Thailand confirms that noise exposure levels of greater than 85 decibels can increase the risk of damage to the ears. Aside from affecting your hearing, NIHL can lead to anxiety, depression, stress, and other nervous disorders.

Constant exposure to loud noises at work can lead to NIHL. The following are a few effective hearing protection tips to help prevent NIHL.

Hearing Protection Tips for Workers

Constant exposure to loud noises at work can lead to NIHL. The following are a few effective hearing protection tips to help prevent NIHL.

1. Wear Hearing Protection

  • Noise-Canceling Headphones - Some workers wear iPods and other music devices to avoid hearing background noises. Rather than cranking up your favorite tunes to dangerous levels, wear noise-canceling headphones that decrease the volume and block out the external noises without straining your ears.
  • Every Day Hearing Protection Care - If you have hearing loss or are experiencing symptoms similar to NIHL, it is likely that your ears are even more susceptible to further damage. That means it is a good idea to take extra care in protecting your hearing in any situation where you might be exposed to high levels of noise. Earplugs and ear muffs can be purchased over the counter and offer good protection. Earplugs can also be custom-made to fit your specific ear shape, offering excellent protection and comfort.

2. Avoid Loud Environments

You do not have to be a jackhammer operator or rock musician to experience noise-induced hearing loss. While regular exposure to noise at construction zones and concerts can cause hearing damage, more ordinary factory and warehouse environments with loud vehicles, heavy machinery etc. can also contribute to hearing loss.

Generally, regulations and unions require workers in noisy environments to have their hearing tested regularly. Even if your job does are not required you to have your hearing tested, make sure to protect your ears and avoid loud environments.

3. Never Stick Anything into Your Ears

Avoid sticking anything into your ear canals, such as cotton swabs, bobby pins, and other devices to remove earwax. Not only can they damaging your hearing by injuring your eardrums, these objects can push wax and debris deeper into your ear canal, creating an uncomfortable buildup. Cotton swabs are fine for removing debris from the outer, visible portion of the ear, but are not intended to pushed into the canals.

4. Quit Smoking

Smoking isn’t just damaging to your lungs and heart, it can also damage cells throughout your body, including those inside your ears.

Some other tips that you can follow to protect your hearing at work:

  • Take a break from noise every 30 minutes.
  • Get up and walk around for a few minutes. Walking increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including the ears, which encourages the body to stay healthy and function well.
  • After prolonged exposure to loud noises, move to a quieter environment and rest your ears for at least 12 to 16 hours.
  • Get regular hearing checkups.

If you believe you have hearing damage or any other hearing-related issues, schedule an appointment with Dr. Chris Hoffmann today to get your ears checked.


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Chris Lin Hoffmann

Dr. Chris Hoffmann is an audiologist who has been involved in hearing sciences for over 20 years. Her passion for helping people with their hearing led her to establish Hoffmann Audiology hearing clinic. Dr. Hoffmann has more than 14 years of clinical knowledge in hearing testing, hearing aid fittings, and aural rehabilitation.