Service workers are constantly exposed to noise from power tools, machinery, construction equipment and other sources. Noise can be harmful under certain conditions if you don’t take measures to protect yourself.
Whether noise is harmful depends on how loud it is and the length of time you are exposed to it. Determining what is too loud is difficult to do.
Noise is measured in decibels. Exposure to 90 decibels over an 8 hour period is a recognized threshold for hearing damage. When you are exposed to this much noise for anywhere close to 8 hours make sure you protect your hearing. Noise levels below 90 decibels over an 8 hour period can still be damaging to some people so it’s a good idea to always protect your hearing.
Since noise above 90 decibels is even more damaging to your hearing, it’s a good idea to protect yourself all the time no matter how long you are exposed to it.
Since you don’t have the equipment to measure noise on the job site, remember that an air compressor runs at around 90 decibels and a circular saw at around 100 decibels. Use this knowledge to gauge the noise around you.
Another way to gauge the noise level is to determine whether you can hear a co-worker standing 3 feet away from you when he or she is not shouting. If not, it’s probably too noisy.
Also, if you hear a ringing sound or feel a tickling sensation in your ears, it’s too noisy. Whenever it’s that noisy, wear hearing protection.
There are different types of hearing protection and each blocks out a certain amount of noise. Ear muffs block out more noise than ear plugs. Some types of ear muffs block out more noise than other types of earmuffs. The same goes for ear plugs, too. Whatever you choose, make sure it blocks out enough sound to protect your hearing, but not so much that you can’t hear what is going on around you. Make sure you can still hear a warning shout from a co-worker or a back-up alarm on a piece of equipment.
Learn how to properly install your ear plugs to get the best protection.