Construction workers play a crucial role in building infrastructure, but their job often exposes them to hazardous noise levels that contribute to noise-induced hearing loss. When exposed to loud noises above 80 decibels, hearing damage can occur. Construction workers are around this level and louder for more than eight hours a day.
Permanent hearing loss is something that cannot be fixed, so it’s important to take note of ways your hearing can be damaged and begin taking action to prolong your hearing. Knowing the signs of construction workers hearing loss and doing what you can to protect your hearing will help you out in the long run!
What is noise-induced hearing loss?
Noise-induced hearing loss is a common occupational hazard in the construction industry. Prolonged exposure to high noise levels, such as heavy machinery, power tools and construction equipment, can damage the delicate structures of the inner ear, leading to permanent hearing impairment. The loudness of the noise, duration of exposure and proximity to the source are crucial factors in determining the risk of developing this kind of hearing loss.
Signs of construction workers hearing loss
Signs of hearing loss among construction workers can vary depending on the severity and type of hearing impairment, but below are some common things to look out for.
Difficulty understanding speech
Construction workers with hearing loss may struggle to comprehend conversations, especially in noisy environments. They may frequently ask others to repeat themselves or misunderstand instructions or warnings.
Ringing or buzzing sounds
Tinnitus, which is the perception of ringing, buzzing or other phantom sounds in the ears, is often associated with noise-induced hearing loss. Construction workers experiencing tinnitus may hear these sounds constantly or intermittently.
Difficulty communicating in noisy environments
Construction sites are often loud and bustling with activity. Workers with hearing loss may struggle to communicate effectively amidst the noise, leading to increased frustration and potential safety risks.
Hearing loss can cause misinterpretation of sounds, leading to confusion and potential mistakes on the job. For example, a construction worker might mistake a warning signal or alarm, posing a danger to themselves and others.
Complaints from coworkers
Fellow workers may notice signs of hearing loss before the affected individual does. If colleagues frequently comment on the construction worker's difficulty hearing or understanding, it may be an indication of hearing impairment.
Tips for protection at construction sites
Taking breaks from the noise, staying a safe distance from loud tools and machinery and wearing proper hearing protection will keep your ears out of harm's way.
Hearing protection equipment
Workers should wear earplugs or earmuffs consistently and correctly to reduce the impact of noise exposure on their hearing. Employers are actually required to train and monitor their employees to ensure compliance.
Engineering and administrative controls
Installing noise barriers, mufflers or sound-absorbing materials can help reduce noise levels on construction sites. Proper equipment maintenance, lubrication and insulation of noise sources can also minimize noise emissions and protect workers' hearing. Rotating workers to quieter tasks and scheduling breaks in low-noise areas is also beneficial.
Training and awareness
Workers should be educated on the proper use and maintenance of hearing protection devices, the signs of hearing loss and steps to take if they suspect a hearing problem.
Regular hearing screenings
Routine hearing screenings can identify early signs of hearing loss, allowing for timely intervention. Employers should provide access to regular hearing tests to monitor workers' hearing health and detect any changes in their hearing ability.
Visit a hearing specialist when needed
If you’re experiencing any of these construction workers hearing loss signs, you should visit an audiologist or another hearing specialist who can conduct a hearing test. In doing so, you can determine the extent of your hearing loss and come up with a treatment plan catered to your lifestyle and job. Contact us today to see how we can help!