Every October, businesses across the nation come together to raise awareness about noise-induced hearing loss during National Protect Your Hearing Month.
National Protect Your Hearing Month takes place throughout the entire month of October and gives employers plenty of time to plan activities that bring further awareness to the workforce on the importance of hearing loss prevention.
Some great ideas include:
- Lead a safety meeting or toolbox talk on any topic related to workplace noise reduction or hearing protection.
- Host a workshop to demonstrate the correct way for workers to wear (or insert) their hearing protection devices.
- Schedule a short video training session on Hearing Conservation and Safety.
- Plan an activity to demonstrate how workers can use NIOSH’s free Sound Level Meter app that they can download to their cell phones.
- Conduct a safety audit or workplace inspection to re-evaluate the noise hazards in the workplace. Decide if the hearing program in place is sufficient or if additional changes should be made to protect workers.
- Provide information to employees, that they can also share with their families, on ways that everyone can prevent hearing loss outside of work.
- Ensure that all workers who require hearing protection devices, like earplugs or earmuffs, have access to the equipment they need, when they need it.
- Have management send an email to all employees reinforcing the organization’s commitment to safety and the importance of workplace hearing loss prevention.
- Post signs or posters that remind workers to wear their personal protective equipment. Get creative!
In the U.S., hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition after high blood pressure and arthritis. Not surprisingly, hearing loss is among the most common work-related illnesses. Workers are faced with occupational noise hazards every day.
Over time, being around too much loud noise can make workers lose their hearing. Within every industry sector there are workers at risk for work-related hearing loss.
Hearing loss from loud noise is permanent — and most people don’t notice their hearing is damaged until it’s too late. Once someone has lost their hearing, they can’t get it back.
Why is hearing loss prevention important?
Almost all work-related hearing loss is permanent, and it can have a profound impact on quality of life.
- As hearing loss worsens, hearing and understanding others becomes increasingly difficult, which can lead to isolation.
- Hearing loss is associated with cognitive (mental) decline and heart problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Hearing loss is strongly associated with depression.
- Hearing loss can lead to loss of enjoyment, when all the sounds we want to hear, like music, or the voice of loved one, become muted and lack quality.
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus), which often occurs along with hearing loss, can disrupt sleep and concentration, and is associated with both depression and anxiety.
- Hearing loss can impact safety at home and on the job.
- Income is typically lower among workers with hearing loss, than among workers with normal hearing.
For more information on reducing noise exposure and preventing workplace hearing loss, visit the NIOSH website on Noise & Hearing Loss Prevention. There is a lot of great information including facts and statistics that you can share with workers.