“Better safe than sorry”
Our recommended hearing protection principle
Workplace noise is treacherous. It may seem harmless at first but if you’re exposed regularly, even relatively weak noise can soon become dangerous. And once you notice an impairment, it is already too late and irreversible! That’s why precaution should always be taken at the workplace. Take noise seriously – and act now!
Noise pitfall #1:
Besides obviously harmful loud noise peaks, repeated exposure to low-intensity noise also constitutes a substantial risk of hearing impairment. And it takes surprisingly weak noise to cause permanent injury, if the exposure time is long enough and the frequency range is unfavorable. Noise-induced hearing loss is accumulative so the damage gets worse every time you’re exposed to it. And at work, you may well be exposed daily...
Noise pitfall #2:
Its effects are delayed!
Even though you may not notice hearing loss immediately, it’s a proven fact that long-term exposure even to relatively weak noise is harmful. It may take years before you notice the negative effects, which besides hearing loss include tinnitus and hyperacusis (sensitivity to certain sounds), and by then it’s too late! What you can do as an employer to prevent hearing impairment is to raise awareness and take early precaution.
Noise pitfall #3:
Hearing loss has often been referred to as an “invisible disability,” not just because of the lack of visible symptoms, but because the danger of noise exposure has been largely overlooked by employers and employees alike: “what we can’t see doesn’t exist.” Fortunately, attitudes are changing fast with increasing awareness – yet unaddressed hearing loss remains the third largest cause of years lived with disability.
Doesn’t regulation manage risk?
According to EU's noise-at-work directive, hearing protection must be used if a person's daily average noise exposure is 85 dB(A) or higher. But how do you assess average, and what is average for different employees? How does extended exposure to low-intensity noise – mixed with a few medium-loud noise peaks –add up during the day? And what if the noise is mainly in the most unfavorable frequency range, another important parameter affecting risk of hearing loss?
The range of human hearing depends on sound level and frequency. We all know sound level as “loud or weak”, and frequency as “high or low pitch”, both of which are tested in regular hearing tests. A common indicator of harmless sound is below 85 dB(A), although also partly dependent on frequency.
Apply the precautionary principle!
The science of noise and hearing is complex, which is why the precautionary principle should always be applied. Not to mention that too effective hearing protection is also potentially hazardous as it reduces your situational awareness. Sordin can help your organization shift to the safe side by providing high-quality hearing protection for your employees along with market-leading acoustics expertise.
EU’s noise-at-work directive 2003/10/EC stipulates that hearing protection should be used if the daily average noise exposure is 85 dB(A) or above. The Swedish Work Environment Authority (SWEA) recommends max 80 dB(A) and Sordin max 75 dB(A) according to the precautionary principle.