Approximately 36 million Americans have hearing loss. One in three developed their hearing loss as a result of exposure to noise.
Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by damage to the hair cells that are found in our inner ear. Hair cells are small sensory cells that convert the sounds we hear (sound energy) into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged our hair cells cannot grow back, causing permanent hearing loss.
Hearing protection decreases the intensity, or loudness, of noise and helps preserve your hearing. Wearing hearing protection when around sounds louder than 85 dB for a long period of time is a safety requirement. There are different types of hearing protection such as foam earplugs, earmuffs, and custom hearing protection devices. ISRI members can visit the safety pages of the ISRI website to get more information on hearing protection at work.
Remember, hearing protection should go beyond the workplace. There are actions that can be taken to protect your hearing off the job such as:
- Turning down the volume when listening to the radio, the TV, MP3 player, or anything through ear buds and headphones. (Visit www.TurnItToTheLeft.org).
- Walking away from the noise.
- And, other than hearing protection, do not put anything in your ear!