Noise makes you sick: the underestimated health risk

Personal protective equipment also has its stars in products. Unfortunately, hearing protection is not one of them – even though, according to AUVA, noise-induced hearing loss is the most common occupational disease and is also subject to compensation. Here you can read an overview of why we should protect our hearing and why you should protect your employees’ hearing as best as possible.

Quiet please

Noise is not only annoying, but also affects our health and can impair it. Damage to hearing generally only occurs when people are regularly exposed to high levels of noise. But even lower noise levels impair sleep, concentration and communication, causing stress to the body and psyche.

Protection against noise at work

Noise is also an issue in everyday working life. The Austrian PPE Ordinance stipulates in §11 that employers must determine the noise exposure at the workplace and – among other things – reduce the noise level to the lowest possible. In addition, hearing protection must be made available to employees above 80 dB (decibels) and must be worn above 85 dB. Noise areas must also be marked and cordoned off.

It should be noted that even if hearing protection is not worn for only a short time, damage to hearing can occur, although this may not become apparent until years later. The tricky thing is that gradual hearing damage does not hurt and is therefore often underestimated. Noise-induced hearing loss is not curable, however, and has a massive impact on daily life. Even hearing aids can only help to a limited extent. Proper hearing protection and correct use are therefore essential.

These different hearing protectors are available

Hearing protection is divided into the following types, which are standardized according to EN 352:

  • Hearing protection plugs, worn in the ear canal: This is recommended when hearing protection must be worn at all times – especially when temperatures, humidity and dust levels are elevated. Even if further PPE or. If you wear glasses, this type of hearing protection is recommended.
  • Earmuffs, used on or in the ear canal: The plugs are connected here with a bracket.
  • Earmuffs, that enclose both auricles. If the hearing protection is worn and removed regularly, earmuffs are a good choice.

Illustration of earplugs, ear muffs and earmuffs

At very high sound levels, a combination of plugs and capsules is recommended, but overprotection should be avoided at the same time, as this can lead to impaired perception of danger signals. The manufacturer’s sound insulation specification also helps here.

It must be comfortable

Careful selection is also important with regard to wearing comfort. The higher the level, the greater the willingness of employees to wear hearing protection. A selection of different products is therefore advisable – after all, not every ear is the same. And the key to being optimally protected from noise is the correct fit of the hearing protection solution.

On average, the acclimatization period for individual hearing protection is one to three weeks. Experience shows that employees do not want to miss the benefits of appropriate hearing protection once it has become a habit to wear it.

There is a particular tragedy in the fact that virtually every case of noise-induced hearing loss could have been 100% prevented with the right hearing protection.

But the good news is that with a solid analysis of noise exposure in the workplace, good advice and careful selection of the right product, you can adequately protect yourself and your employees from hearing damage.

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