Working with machines, electrical tools/equipment or working adjacent to a motorway or railway can be damaging to hearing. When you are exposed to loud noise for long periods of time, this can result in permanent hearing damage.
The standard for harmful noise for an eight-hour workday is an average noise level of 80 dB(A).
How to recognize harmful noise: When you are located one metre from someone else and are unable to properly understand the other person at normal voice level then the noise level is higher than 85 dB(A).
Noise is harmful at exposure levels of 80 dB(A) or more over an eight-hour workday.
Incidental exposure to harmful noise can result in:
Constant exposure to harmful noise can result in:
Permanent hearing loss
Less known, but recognizable when we think about it more carefully, are consequences such as:
These consequences in turn can result in accidents on the shopfloor or in production losses; however, they can also result in reduced well-being at work and during your personal life.
Fatigue after a long workday is normal; however, exposure to noise further increases fatigue.
Measures at source:
Often what this brings to mind is standard hearing protection or fitted aids. But what is the real purpose of hearing protection? Hearing protection does not mean ‘damping all sound’, but ensuring that you can safely hear what you need to be able to hear. When this is not possible, people will remove the hearing protection, even if it fits very well.
It is important to realize that there is no such thing as a single solution that is suitable for everyone and every situation. A number of examples will be reviewed below together with their advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the situation you must choose the best protection under the circumstances, which means that at times you must switch between different aids.
Individual custom-made hearing protection
Earmuffs with an external environment listening function, for example ‘level-dependent earmuffs’ or electronic earplugs. In addition, there are options that allow earmuffs to be connected to a telephone or walkie-talkie. This way the external environmental noise is limited, but messages from colleagues are clearly heard.
Intersafe/3M supplies suitable solutions for any situation. Ask your PPE Coordinator about the available options.
A much less known aid is the Switch plug. The advantage of this plug is that it has multiple settings for adjusting the hearing protection. When you are in an environment with changing peaks, the plug may be a simple solution. You do not need to remove the plug from your ear, but can adjust it externally to respond to the situation.
Hearing protection, no matter how well chosen, only provides the desired protection when it is correctly chosen and worn.
Here’s the link to the supplier Intersafe Groeneveld: https://esm2.intersafe.eu/employee.
For more information about hearing protection, visit: https://www.arboportaal.nl/onderwerpen/gehoorbescherming
Employees can measure harmful noise on the shopfloor themselves
Use the FNV Decibel Meter to measure noise at your workplace. With this free app you can see the noise volume you are exposed to at work. The app immediately issues advice relating to your work situation: is it safe or not? The app uses your telephone’s microphone to measure the noise volume in decibels (dB). Whether the noise is harmful to your hearing depends on the volume and the time of exposure. The FNV Decibel Meter is available free of charge in the app store for iPhone as well as Android phones.
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