Work Smart. Work Safe.
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Can you hear me now?

By Lauren Smith

loud music

“Turn down the volume! You’ll lose your hearing!”
– parents everywhere

Who didn’t spend a portion of their teenage years blasting music? My parents definitely got an earful of punk music while I was in high school. I’m surprised quite frankly that I didn’t lose my hearing, considering how close I’ve stood to speakers at concerts. But, I’ve learned from my mistakes and now I definitely don’t blast the music in my headphones because I’d like to continue enjoying music.

If you made it out of your teenage years with no hearing loss, you’re lucky. But don’t push your luck by not utilizing some form of hearing protection when you’re on the job. You may not realize it, but noise is a common workplace hazard. Many different industries in Alberta expose workers to consistent noise that’s loud enough to contribute to damaged hearing. The good news is you can protect yourself and your ears.

Do you hear what I hear?

You should be wearing some sort of hearing protection at work if the noise or sound level exceeds 85 decibels (A-weighted) or dB(A). If your ears are ringing or you notice sounds are muffled, these are signs of temporary hearing loss. With repeated exposure to that level of noise for prolonged periods of time, you are at risk for long-term damage to your hearing.

When selecting your type of hearing protection, ensure it:

  • Fits properly – If it doesn’t fit, it isn’t fully protecting you.
  • Supplies sufficient protection – Do some research on the manufacturer.
  • Is comfortable enough to be worn at all times – When noise is above 85 decibels, wearing protection only part of the time greatly reduces its effectiveness.

If you work in an environment that is consistently noisy, ask your employer to provide you with hearing protection (even a simple pair of ear plugs can make a difference). Please don’t take your hearing for granted and use hearing protection when it’s needed. If you don’t heed this warning, you’ll never hear the end of it – literally.

hearing protection must be worn

For more information on workplace hearing loss and prevention, as well as your employer’s responsibilities, visit: humanservices.alberta.ca/documents/WHS-PUB_hs003.pdf

Learn more about occupational hearing loss from WCB-AB:
www.wcb.ab.ca/pdfs/workers/WFS_Hearing_loss_general.pdf
www.wcb.ab.ca/pdfs/workers/WFS_Hearing_loss_noise.pdf

Sources:
worksafebc.com/publications/health_and_safety/by_topic/assets/pdf/hear_for_good.pdf
ccohs.ca/oshanswers/prevention/ppe/ear_prot.html

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