Work Smart. Work Safe.
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Please don’t make me yell at you

By Danica Erickson

I often yell at my father. Not because I want to yell at him. Certainly not because I enjoy yelling at him. I yell at my dad because he has hearing loss, and won’t wear his hearing aids at home so he doesn’t hear me when I try to talk to him.

Noise at work

My dad’s hearing loss is because of a former job. Years ago, most workplace vehicles didn’t have air conditioning. At work, my dad drove long distances on gravel roads. When it was hot outside, dad would roll the window down just a bit so dust and rocks kicked up by passing traffic wouldn’t pelt him in the face. He never got a face full of gravel, but he probably did have a high-pitched hum in his ears for extended periods of time.

When is noise dangerous?

My dad’s situation is unfortunate, but it’s a good example of the importance of protecting your ears no matter where you work. Many workplace noises can cause hearing damage. When is a noise at work dangerous? Alberta Occupational Health and Safety provides employers with these limits for employee exposure to decibels (dBA) of noise.[i]

Here are some examples of noises we’re commonly exposed to, and how loud they are in decibels (dBs).[ii]


It’s hard to know for sure when the noise around you might hurt you, so it’s important to wear hearing protection in the workplace whenever you think there’s a chance the noise level is too high.

Options for protection

What kind of ear protection is available?  Here are some acceptable options:

  • Canal caps
  • Reusable or custom-molded earplugs
  • Earmuffs (the kind that are hard-sided and CSA-approved)

Unacceptable options include:

  • Wadded up tissue
  • Your toque pulled down over your ears
  • Earmuffs (the kind that are fluffy and look like little piglets)

Hearing is a wonderful thing, so take action now to save your hearing for later.

[i] Alberta Occupational Health and Safety. (2013). Noise at the Worksite.  Retrieved from

[ii] Galen Carol Audio. (2007). Decibel (Loudness) Comparison Chart.  Retrieved from

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