Hearing Protection at The Workplace
Hearing protection is the process of protecting the ear either externally or internally from cold, intrusion by water, or other environmental situations especially from noise.
In this article we shall cover when hearing protection should be used, law requirement from employers on hearing protection, effective use of hearing protection, maintenance and checks you need to make.
When to use hearing protection
Employees should be given hearing protection:
- When there is need for more protection besides noise control provided;
- When other ways of controlling noise are developed as initial control measures
Hearing protection should not be used as an alternative method neglecting noise controlling measures by scientific and organizational means.
What are employers required by the law
Employers are expected to:
- Provide their employees with hearing protectors when they ask for it and their noise exposure should be between lower and upper exposure action values;
- Provide their employees with hearing protectors and ensure they use them accordingly when noise exposure is above exposure action values;
- Establish some points as hearing protection zones. In these places hearing protectors must be used and should be marked if need be;
- Educate their employees on relevant information and how to use and care for the hearing protectors provided;
- Maintain hearing protectors and make sure maximum use of them by the employees.
How to use hearing protection adequately
- Ensure that the protectors provide maximum protection; intend at least what gets into the ear is below 85dB;
- Use hearing protectors during noisy tasks and jobs in days of work;
- Select a hearing protector which best suits the working environment you are in- make sure the protectors are comfortable and hygienic to work with;
- Keep in mind the way they will worn out by other protective items like dust masks and eye protectors;
- Ensure availability of variety of hearing protectors for employees to choose ones that best suit them.
- Make hearing protectors a must yet the law doesn’t require that;
- Make hearing protection approach across the board’ it’s better use it when need be;
- Provide hearing protector which eliminates much noise as this may lead to isolation or even employees may be unwilling to wear.
Maintenance of hearing protection
You will be required to observe that hearing protection works productively in that:
- It’s continually in good and clean condition;
- Earmuffs seals are not damaged;
- Headbands tension is unreduced;
- No modifications are unofficial;
- Compressible earplugs are spongy, moldable and clean.
Checks need to be made
You are required to ensure that employees use ear protection equipment when needed to. You may also need to:
- Introduce need to wear hearing protection in the safety policy. Assign someone in authority to be in charge of issuing them and ensuring replacements are gladly available;
- Spot check to observe that policies are adhered to and that hearing protection is used effectively. In case the employees fail to observe hearing protection policy accordingly apply normal company’s disciplinary steps;
- Make sure all managers and supervisors lead by example in wearing hearing protection all times when they are in the zones of hearing protection;
- Allow only those people need to be in hearing protection zone and ensure they don’t stay for long than they need to in those zones.