Here in Australia, working hard is in our blood. We spend long days on site, just working hard to get the job done. But while you’re spending your days up close and personal with loud power tools, are you keeping in mind the harm you could be doing to your hearing?
Each year, around 4700 claims are made for noise induced hearing loss in Australia. With about 1070 of those claims coming from men ages 60-64. According to Safework NSW, between 28-32% of Aussie workers are likely to spend their work day in an environment that exposes them to loud noise. The most common industries effected are: trades workers, machinery operators, drivers & labourers.
What’s the worst that could happen?
You may think that exposing yourself to harmful loud noises on your job site just means you will probably have to turn your car stereo volume a bit louder so you can hear your favourite songs. Unfortunately, the consequences are much more serious than that. These harmful loud noises can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss, or even tinnitus – constant ear ringing. So while it may seem like it’s “part of the job” it’s very important to take hearing protection seriously.
How much worksite noise is too much?
WHS Regulations suggests two specific measurements to use as guidelines when it comes to worksite noise.
- Over an 8-hour shift, a worker can’t be exposed to more than 85 decibels. “Too much” is completely dependent on the level of noise and how long the exposure lasts.
- Workers cannot be exposed to a level above 140 decibels. Think BIG impact – sledgehammers or gun shots. These noises can cause damage almost instantly.
It is important to ensure the noise exposure does not exceed standards. To keep staff safe, businesses should provide hearing tests often to keep on top of those workers that are exposed to these noises frequently.
Can industrial deafness be avoided?
The risk of industrial deafness can be greatly reduced by following suggested checks and wearing the right equipment.
“The One-Metre Rule” is simple – do you need to raise your voice to talk to a coworker that is a metre or less away? If you find yourself yelling to get their attention, your worksite may be too loud. If you realise the worksite seems a bit too loud, perform a noise assessment to help reduce the risks we mentioned above.
Noise in a workplace is impossible to avoid. When using heavy machinery and power tools, the noise is inevitable. However, it is completely possible to keep yourself and your work mates safe from the risks of this noise exposure by following the guidelines we have given you. If you want to learn more about workplace noise – check out SafeWork NSW online or stop in to Tuff-As Workwear and let us help you get all of the protective gear you need!