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Hearing Health Matters: How to protect your hearing at work and home

We use our ears for so much more than we realise. It’s not just about hearing – it’s about connecting with people, being moved by great music, realising when something’s wrong, and sometimes even just ordering a cheeky takeaway. We’re here to shed light on the significance of hearing health and provide practical tips on how to protect your hearing, both at work and at home. 

Identifying hearing risks at work

Workplaces, regardless of the industry, can expose employees to various noise levels that may pose a risk to their hearing health. Machinery, construction tools, and even office environments with constant chatter can contribute to cumulative damage over time. 

To understand the risk to your hearing, here’s a quick lesson in the concept of decibels. Simply put, decibels (dB) measure the intensity of sound. A quiet office typically registers around 40 dB, while heavy machinery can exceed 100 dB. Prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 dB can result in hearing damage. 

If your workplace involves loud machinery or equipment, it's essential to wear appropriate hearing protection. Earplugs or earmuffs can significantly reduce the impact of loud noises and protect your hearing. Don't underestimate the importance of this simple step – it could be the key to preserving your hearing for years to come. 

Noise induced hearing loss is irreversible – once you lose it, it’s gone forever. 

Managing noise in the workplace

Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment and should take steps to reduce your exposure to noise at work. This might be by changing processes so less noise is created, making sure equipment and machinery are well maintained, providing PPE such as ear defenders or earplugs, or limiting the amount of time you spend in noisy environments.  

Some workplaces may also implement hearing health surveillance, where your hearing is monitored routinely by a medical professional to check that it hasn’t been reduced unexpectedly or in ways that indicate noise-induced hearing loss.  

We use our ears for so much more than we realise.

Hearing risks at home

While it's easy to associate hearing damage with loud noises at work, everyday activities at home can also contribute to cumulative harm. Listening to music or podcasts at high volumes for extended periods can lead to permanent hearing loss. 

To protect your hearing at home, consider adopting the 60/60 rule. Limit your headphone usage to 60 minutes at a time, and keep the volume below 60% of the maximum. This simple step can go a long way in preserving your hearing and preventing long-term damage. 

Other activities outside work can damage your hearing too. Attending concerts, using power tools for DIY projects, and riding motorbikes can all cause hearing damage if you don’t take steps to reduce your noise exposure. You can protect yourself by wearing ear protection and limiting the amount of time you’re exposed. 

Tips for hearing health 

  • Use Hearing Protection: Whether at work or home, invest in high-quality earplugs or earmuffs. Choose protection that fits comfortably and effectively reduces noise levels. 

  • Follow the 60/60 Rule: Limit your headphone usage to 60 minutes at a time and keep the volume below 60% of the maximum. Give your ears breaks between sessions. 

  • Be Mindful of Environment: Pay attention to the noise levels in your surroundings. If it's consistently loud, take steps to reduce exposure or use hearing protection. 

  • Regular Hearing Check-ups: Attend any workplace hearing tests scheduled for you, or if these aren’t required in your workplace, consider scheduling a hearing check-up if you have concerns about your hearing health. Early detection of any issues can lead to better outcomes. 

  • Advocate for Workplace Safety: Encourage colleagues to wear available hearing protection if it’s necessary in your workplace and lead by example. If you notice excessive noise at work that doesn’t appear to be addressed, discuss it with your employer and encourage the implementation of noise reduction measures. 

Your hearing health is a precious asset that requires proactive care. By being aware of the potential threats at work and home, taking simple precautions, and advocating for a safe environment, you can ensure a sound future for yourself and your colleagues across all industries. Don't let the noise of today drown out the harmony of tomorrow – protect your hearing, because hearing health matters. 

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Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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