Exposure to very loud noise during and outside of work can cause hearing loss. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, noises above 85 dB (decibels) can damage your hearing, especially when exposure to such a loud noise is frequent.
There are many activities that can cause hearing loss over time, including:
Using a personal radio or stereo at high volume
Using headphones to listen to music at high volume
Operating heavy machinery
Use of power tools
Many of these activities surpass the 85 dB level (some concerts approach 120 dB), which causes further hearing damage. However, there are solutions to protect your hearing when engaging in these activities. One solution is to simply turn the volume down as you listen to music. When you cannot control the volume of the noise, the best solution is to wear ear protection that blocks out or reduces the noise. Commercial earplugs and custom-made earmolds with sound filtering capabilities are two effective ear protection devices that you can wear at work or during leisure activities. Additionally, it is recommended that those who experience high levels of noise more frequently have routine hearing tests.
For employees who work in a high noise environment, there are federal regulations to govern the amount of noise allowable in your workplace and establish an employer’s responsibility to provide ear protection. To find more information on this subject, visit OSHA.gov.