Due to background music, guests’ laughter and chit-chat, as well as the loud noises made by blenders, mixers, and exhaust fans in the kitchen, restaurant work environments are typically noisy. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified hospitality services workers as being at risk for noise-induced hearing loss.
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Which Jobs in the Hospitality Industry Can Cause Hearing Loss?
Permanent hearing loss can result from working in environments with loud noise all day long. This can happen to employees in the hospitality and service sectors who work in bars, clubs, cafés, and restaurants as well as in typically loud businesses (including mines, factories, and manufacturing).
Nightclubs, restaurants, and bars may all be too noisy for workers without hearing protection to work comfortably. During an eight-hour shift, noise levels can frequently exceed 85 dB, for example, when music is playing, espresso machines are brewing, and cutlery and dishes are clattering. (As a point of comparison, a normal discussion is about 60 dB(A)).
Jobs in the hospitality industry that can cause hearing loss due to high noise levels include:
- Kitchen staff: Chefs, cooks, and dishwashers are exposed to loud equipment such as blenders, mixers, dishwashers, and ovens, which can generate high levels of noise. The noise levels can cause hearing damage over time.
- Servers: Servers frequently perform their duties in noisy dining areas where diners are conversing and laughing loudly. Also, they might have to yell to be heard over the noise, which over time can cause vocal strain and hearing loss.
- Bartenders: Bartenders work in a fast-paced, noisy environment where music is playing in the background and customers are talking loudly. Bartenders may also have to shout in order to be heard above the din of the bar, which can cause vocal strain and hearing damage over time.
- Drive-through attendants: Drive-through attendants are subjected to loud noises from the cars and the loudspeaker system, which can cause long-term hearing damage.
- Food delivery personnel: Employees who deliver food may drive motorbikes or other vehicles with loud engines, which over time can harm hearing.
Consumers and staff who are exposed to loud noises on a regular basis may get temporary or permanent hearing loss. Those who often dine out or spend a lot of time in noisy restaurants may eventually be more prone to hearing loss.
By sitting in the restaurant’s calmer areas, taking regular breaks from the noise, and using earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones, patrons can take precautions to reduce the risk of hearing impairment. The use of quieter equipment, the addition of sound-absorbing materials, and the provision of quiet areas for customers to escape the clamor are further measures that restaurant owners can take to reduce noise levels in their establishments.
It’s important that both customers and restaurant owners are aware of the possible hazards posed by loud environments and take precautions to preserve their hearing.
Study: Hospitality Industry and Hearing Loss
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) carried out one of the most well-known studies on hearing loss in the hospitality services industry in 2012. The study, which was written up in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, looked at hearing loss and noise exposure among American restaurant workers.
The study found that employees in the food preparation and service industries were most exposed to noise, with noise levels frequently reaching 85 dB, which is considered harmful by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Restaurant workers were also exposed to loud noises, with some locations having noise levels over 100 decibels (dB) (OSHA).
It also discovered that compared to workers in other industries, those employed in the food service sector had a higher prevalence of hearing loss. The National Health Interview Survey collected information from more than 1.2 million workers, and the researchers discovered that workers in the food service sector had a higher prevalence of hearing loss than those in any other industry.
Ultimately, the NIOSH study showed that hearing loss is a severe occupational health issue in the food service sector and that employees there are more likely to experience it than those in other industries.
Bartenders, servers, musicians, and other employees frequently avoid using hearing protection because they feel uncomfortable, “uncool,” and concerned that it would interfere with their ability to interact with customers. Hence, it’s crucial for employees who operate in these loud locations to select the right amount of attenuation as well as a comfortable and appealing design.
There are several steps hospitality industry workers may take to safeguard their hearing from harm caused by noise:
- Wear hearing protection
- Use quieter equipment
- Implement noise control measures
- Train workers on hearing conservation
- Conduct regular hearing screenings
- Rotate workers
A complete hearing conservation program that combines engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protection equipment is, overall, the most effective method of preventing hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Workers Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation for hearing loss in the food service industry can provide several benefits to workers who have suffered hearing damage due to their job. Here are some potential benefits:
- Medical treatment coverage: Workers’ compensation can cover the costs of medical treatment such as hearing tests, hearing aids, and other devices that can improve hearing.
- Wage replacement: Workers’ compensation can provide wage replacement benefits if an employee is unable to work due to hearing loss. This can help cover lost wages and ensure that workers can continue to support themselves and their families.
- Vocational rehabilitation: If an employee is unable to return to their previous job due to hearing loss, workers’ compensation can provide vocational rehabilitation services to help them find new employment that is suitable for their condition.
- Legal protection: Workers’ compensation can protect workers from legal action if they suffer hearing loss on the job. This can prevent workers from having to pursue legal action against their employer, which can be costly and time-consuming.
Overall, financial and medical help for employees who have suffered hearing damage owing to their jobs can be provided via workers’ compensation for hearing loss in the food service industry. Additionally, it can assist shield employees from legal action and guarantee that they can continue to support their families.
If you, or anyone you know, worked in noise and suffers from hearing loss, please do not hesitate to contact us.Contact Us