Working in construction has obvious dangers, one, however, that may not be so apparent is noise. Noise does not pose an immediate threat, but at certain levels it can cause permanent damage to your hearing. Hearing loss can cause construction workers to miss alarms, moving vehicles and warnings from their coworkers.
The unit commonly used to measure the intensity of sound is decibels. Exposure to sounds at 85 decibels or higher can cause noise-induced hearing loss. The noise level of the average construction site is between 80 and 90 decibels, meaning construction workers are around dangerous levels of noise for extended periods of time.
What causes dangerous noise levels in construction work?
A large part of construction work involves operating and being around heavy machinery and equipment that produce a hazardous amount of noise pollution. The following are standard equipment and machines in the construction industry that generate high intensities of sound:
- Pneumatic chipping hammer
- Pile driver
- Rock drill
- Hammer drill
- Impact wrench
- Nail gun
Construction workers in nonresidential building construction experience the highest amount of noise exposure. Hearing loss happens gradually, and they may not realize it until it causes serious impairment.
Companies should prioritize the safety and health of workers
Today’s technology can allow employers and construction companies to determine the noise levels of the construction tools and equipment their workers will use. They can provide hearing protection devices and implement safety measures to minimize noise exposure. Training programs on hearing conservation can also be incredibly effective.
Construction workers should know that even though hearing loss is an occupational hazard, it is preventable. Their employers are responsible for their safety and well-being.