Protect Against Hearing Loss: Create A Prevention Program
Did you know that according to Statistics Canada, 38 percent of adults 20 to 70 years old suffer from some form of hearing loss?
Hearing loss is linked with many health and safety issues, including an increased risk of falls and accidents, depression, dementia, and a lower quality of life. Some gradual hearing loss is part of the aging process. However, a major cause of hearing loss is the exposure to high noise levels.
Thankfully, noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
The noise that results in hearing loss can be a short exposure to an extremely loud noise or burst of sound, such as an explosion. Exposure to loud noises over an extended period can also result in hearing loss. Construction sites and industries are common workplaces in which these noises can occur. There are also other sources of noise-induced hearing loss, such as loud music.
Whether a sound is hazardous or not depends on how loud the sound is and how long an individual is exposed to it – and the louder the sound, the less time it takes for hearing loss to occur. Understanding the hazard allows us to prepare and protect ourselves, which is essential, as our risk of hearing damage is much higher without hearing protection.
Protecting everyone’s hearing when and where loud noise occurs is vital to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Prevention Program Management
A noise survey and measurements are the first steps in deciding if hazardous noise is present. Many of the regulations require a worker to be protected from noise at 85 dBA or above. Some provincial governments in Canada, such as those in Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, and British Columbia, require a program to conserve hearing. While such a program is not explicitly stated in the legislation of other provinces and territories, such as Ontario, the Yukon, and Nova Scotia, employers in these areas must still safeguard the hearing of their workers. Employers can show they are diligent in protecting hearing by creating and using a Hearing Loss Prevention Program.
The CSA – a Canadian leader in standards development for several topics, including health and safety – recently updated and published the CSA Z1007:22 Hearing Loss Prevention Program Management. This standard explains how an effective hearing loss prevention program has a lifecycle that includes hazard identification and monitoring; exposure control methods; the selection, use, and maintenance of hearing protection devices; hearing testing; as well as hazard communication, education, and training.
Whether it stems from an extremely loud short burst of sound, or extended exposure to loud noises, preventing noise-induced hearing loss is entirely possible. Conserving people’s hearing requires action. For an individual, this is often simply wearing hearing protection and watching the volume of what they listen to.
For companies, however, it means using standards like the CSA Z1007 for building and using a hearing loss prevention program. Learn about how RWDI partners with companies seeking to do just that by visiting On-Site Measurements or contacting Peter VanDelden, Noise Technical Director at RWDI.