It’s no secret that construction workers are at risk of hearing impairment. With loud machinery – and often ineffective protection – damage is common. In fact, 51 per cent of construction workers are exposed to hazardous noise and 25 per cent of noise tested construction workers have a hearing impairment. Below, we explore who’s at risk and how you can protect yourself.
Occupations can be assessed to check how long workers are exposed to loud noises for each week. Construction work carries some of the loudest and most consistent average noise per week for workers. Activities such as digging, concrete pouring and angle grinding are particularly loud aspects of the job. Carpentry and piling are similarly loud areas too. If you’re unsure about how dangerous your job is, you can use this calculator to assess your own risk. Ultimately, if you’re working in one of these professions or carry out these activities on a regular basis, it’s worth looking into ways of protecting your hearing.
Ear plugs are one of the best ways for you to protect your hearing. These are small inserts that you can fit into your outer ear canal. They work by blocking the air canal with an airtight seal to block noise from entering your ears. Even if you find normal ones uncomfortable, you can order custom earplugs to get a more relaxed fit. And if you have trouble keeping them in your ears, you can even get earplugs that are fitted to a headband.
Ear muffs are a slightly different option to earplugs: they sit on top of the ear rather than just blocking the canal. By fitting over the entire outer ear, ear muffs can form an air seal to protect the ear canal. Usually, they’re held in place by an adjustable band connecting the two muffs. To work optimally, the muffs will need to fit over the entire ear. If it exposes part of the ear, or if it’s worn out you might not be getting the full protection you require.
What to avoid
One common thing to avoid, is to assume that music headphones will protect your ears sufficiently. In fact, frequent exposure to noises over 85 decibels can cause you long-term hearing problems. With many MP3 listeners regularly exceeding this limit, listening to music can actually be a harmful alternative.
Many occupations can expose you to hazardous levels of noise – but construction can be especially dangerous. But there are ways to protect yourself. A solid pair of earplugs or ear muffs can block out the noise and ensure that your job doesn’t give you long-term hearing problems.