Excessive loud exposure in the workplace causes hearing damage in thousands of construction workers every year. Hearing loss not only affects one’s quality of life on and off the job but also raises the danger of additional injuries.
Excessive exposure to sound levels of more than 85 decibels is the most common cause of noise-induced hearing loss.
Table of Contents
- Why Is Noise Management on Construction Sites Vital?
- How Does Loud Noise Cause Hearing Loss?
- Noise Hazards in Construction
- How Do I Know if My Tools Or Job Site Are Too Noisy?
- Hearing Loss Prevention in Construction and Demolition
Why Is Noise Management on Construction Sites Vital?
High amounts of noise might result in irreversible hearing damage. This form of hearing loss is not treatable with surgery or a hearing device. Construction sites have a lot of noisy operations going on, and they may be a big source of noise pollution. Loud noise can also impede job productivity and lead to workplace accidents by making warning signs harder to hear.
Loud noise causes hearing loss, which affects your capacity to hear high frequencies, interpret speech, and communicate, which can lead to social isolation. Hearing loss can have a negative impact on your quality of life by preventing you from mingling with friends, playing with your children or grandkids, or engaging in other activities.
Hearing damage can be avoided, but once it happens, irreversible noise-induced hearing loss cannot be healed or reversed. Hearing loss normally happens gradually, so you might not notice it until it’s too late. Noise can also have a negative impact on your health in other ways.
According to a recent study, people who are exposed to excessive workplace noise on a regular basis are two to three times more likely to develop significant heart disease than those who do not.
How Does Loud Noise Cause Hearing Loss?
A decline in your capacity to hear or interpret words and noises around you is known as hearing loss. It occurs when any portion of the ear or the nerves that transmit sound information to the brain do not function properly. Hearing loss can be transient in some instances. When key components of the ear are injured beyond repair, however, they might become permanent.
Hearing loss decreases the ability to hear high-pitched noises, such as women’s and children’s voices, initially at higher frequencies (4,000 Hz and above), especially on the telephone. Problems with hearing in the normal-speech range grow more severe when high-frequency hearing impairments worsen with sustained exposure (3,000 Hz and below). One of the most common problems associated with noise-induced hearing loss is Tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
The inner ear is particularly vulnerable to loud sounds (cochlea). Hearing loss can be caused by a single exposure to extremely loud noises or by listening to loud sounds over an extended period of time. Loud noise can harm the cochlea’s cells and membranes. Listening to loud noise over an extended period of time can overwork hair cells in the ear, causing them to die.
Signs You May Have Hearing Loss
- You struggle to hear individuals in gatherings or meetings, especially if there is background noise.
- It appears as if people are muttering.
- You must request that individuals repeat what they have said.
- When you’re on the phone, you have problems comprehending what people are saying.
- One or both ears are ringing or making sounds.
- You have problems hearing backup alarms or a cell phone buzzing.
Hearing Loss in Construction – Noise Hazards
In 2007, there were around 23,000 cases of occupational hearing loss documented, and 22 million employees are exposed to potentially harmful noise each year. According to research, 58 percent of workers reported substantial abnormal hearing loss due to noise between 1996 and 2010.
Welders suffered from hearing loss in nearly 80% of cases, whereas roofers suffered from NIHL in 47% of cases.
Workers in the construction business were exposed to the second-highest number of noise dangers (manufacturing was the first).
A 25-year-old carpenter is likely to have the hearing of a 50-year-old individual who has not been exposed to noise, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
For most of your workday, you may be exposed to numerous types and amounts of noise of variable length. However, hearing loss and its symptoms might take a long time to manifest. As a result, businesses should conduct annual hearing examinations for employees who are often exposed to harmful noise levels. This might assist you to figure out whether there’s anything further you can do to safeguard your hearing.
Whatever safeguards are made, a construction site is a loud place to work. Regular exposure to 85 dBA for 8 hours can harm your hearing. You might lose your hearing if you have to use a jackhammer for an hour every day. The faster hearing loss occurs, the higher the noise intensity.
This is terrible news for construction workers because much of the equipment they use on a daily basis is louder than 85 decibels:
- 100 decibels (dBA) – jackhammer
- 105 decibels (dBA) – chop saw
- 110 decibels (dBA) – chain saw
- 115 decibels (dBA) – hammer drill
How Do I Know if My Tools Or Job Site Are Too Noisy?
The decibel scale is used to measure sound intensity. The sound level intensity is measured in dBA after decibels are corrected for how the ear perceives sound.
Because decibels are calculated on a logarithmic scale, a little increase in the number of decibels results in a significant increase in the volume of noise and the possibility of hearing impairment. As a result, increasing the level by 3 dBA doubles the quantity of noise and cuts the recommended exposure period in half.
A sound level meter is used by safety and health inspectors to measure sound or noise levels. The microphone is placed at the level of the user’s ear. A hazardous noise sticker can be applied to equipment that has been assessed to be noisy.
As an 8-hour time-weighted average, OSHA recommends that occupational noise levels be kept below 85 dBA. The damage to your hearing worsens as the noise intensity rises.
Hearing Loss Prevention in Construction and Demolition
Construction workers wearing hearing protection move materials using jackhammers digging into the earth, saws chopping lumber, dump trucks, and bulldozers. These are just a handful of the noises that construction workers have to deal with on a daily basis.
While noise may not appear to be as hazardous as other dangers on construction and demolition sites, it has a significant influence on worker safety and health.
“Noise is one of those risks that is often overlooked in construction,” says Scott Schneider of the ANSI/ASSP A10.46 Subcommittee. “Hearing loss is often gradual, and the threat is not immediately visible.” “That isn’t to say it isn’t significant.”
The noise level on a typical building site is between 80 and 90 decibels (dB). According to the CDC, around 51% of construction workers have been exposed to potentially harmful noise, and 31% of those workers do not use hearing protection. Furthermore, around 14% of all construction workers suffer from hearing loss.
Hearing Loss in Construction – Hearing Protective Devices (HPD)
A hearing protection device, often known as an HPD, is an ear protection device worn in or over the ears to assist prevent noise-induced hearing loss when exposed to dangerous noise. HPDs minimize the amount of noise that enters the ear.
Tinnitus and hyperacusis are two further consequences of noise exposure that HPDs can protect against. Earmuffs, earplugs, electronic hearing protection devices, and semi-insert devices are among the various types of HPDs available.
Some of the latest hearing protection devices you can see in table 1.
Hearing Loss Workers Compensation Benefits
The Workers Compensation Program was established in 1911 to encourage employers to make the workplace safer by requiring safety programs and the use of safety devices.
Since 1911, there have been over 2.5 million workers’ compensation claims filed. Hearing loss workers’ compensation claims now rank #3 in the number of occupational diseases claims filed.
Hearing loss workers’ compensation benefits are largely undiscovered benefits covering hearing health care, which is often uninsured. Many health insurance policies and programs like Medicare do not cover hearing aid purchases but workers’ compensation can. It also pays for the disability of hearing loss just as it does for the loss of eyesight or other injuries.
Aging populations, advances in technology, and greater sensitivity to hearing loss are bringing more attention to financing hearing health care. For the most part, those who qualify for hearing loss workers’ compensation benefits are retired hearing-impaired workers who live on fixed incomes.
Always feel free to ask Johnson Law Offices about the process, the law, or an individual case. The legal, medical, and audio-metric questions that come into play in a hearing loss workers’ compensation claim can be complicated.
The claims require attention to detail mixed with an ability to work well with hearing-impaired retirees and their families, especially spouses, and their hearing health care professionals.