Why Is It So Necessary To Have Good Hearing In Certain Industries?
I am sure those of you who work in industries where noise is always a factor will understand why it is so important to have good hearing in the workplace. Even in office environments there can be noise disturbances caused by exterior stimuli that can affect hearing. For someone to work efficiently and safely it is imperative that hearing is excellent. With so many other sounds to contend with, hearing impairment only makes matters worse.
In order to follow instructions and converse with clients and fellow workers it is imperative that your hearing be of a good quality. In high pressure positions where instructions are necessary to be heard and understood in order for the work to continue, having to repeat yourself can becoming a little unnerving and you always have that nagging feeling that perhaps the instruction still wasn’t heard properly. With deadlines to meet, any time lost on incorrect work affects the bottom line figure of any company.
In industries where workers carry out tasks in areas where dangerous machinery is involved, it is vital that all workers are able to hear emergency signals or warnings with ease. This could be the difference between safe working and an accident on site. For this reason it has become a key factor in the OHSA act that all employees are to undertake audiometric testing on employment. This is to safeguard the employer in cases where an impairment is already an issue and any accident should occur or where it is found later that a hearing impairment is present and the employee lays the blame on the work environment. Of course, it is also in place to safeguard the employee in much the same way. If a baseline audiometric testing result at the beginning of employment shows normal hearing, however, an annual test reveal loss of hearing it can only be assumed that the work environment needs to be evaluated and the cause of the damage pinpointed to prevent the same resulting in the hearing loss of other employees.
Accidents caused through not hearing as such can put a huge financial strain on any company and affect their rating within the industry and no company, in this economic climate, can afford these blemishes on their records. Besides this, hearing loss deemed to be caused through the work environment can find an employee paying huge amounts in compensation to the affected employee.
Any company that wishes to be taken seriously nationally or internationally will take the necessary precautions to follow all health and safety procedures and to educate their employees in this as well. It is important for the employees to understand the importance of following safety rules and regulations and how it will benefit them in the long-term.
Signage is extremely important in any industry. Employees need to have visual warning of areas where hearing loss may occur so that they ensure that they wear the correct protective gear. Protective gear must be provided by the company within reason. Obviously an employee who on a daily basis requires new equipment will have to be penalized but never denied the equipment. Ear plugs are a common safety precaution in medium range noise environement but when it comes to the louder areas, ear muffs are often supplied to drown out the hazardous noise.
It is safe to say that those who are hearing impaired should not be prejudiced in any way. Every person deserves fair chance at employment where their skills warrant the appointment. It becomes a bit more challenging for these individuals who even in only slightly noise environments struggle to make out conversation or differentiating between sounds. Most hearing safety programs pay close attention to those with normal hearing, and often the hearing impaired are forgotten.
Most audiometric testing is carried out in environments that are quiet and don’t take into account the challenges faced by a hearing impaired individual in a noisy environment. Even the hearing impaired or those considered deaf will have some degree of hearing which needs to be protected from further loss or damage and the necessary precautions need to be made available.
The Challenges Faced By The Hearing Impaired
If you consider how those with normal hearing often struggle to hear instructions or warning in a noise environment, you can only pity those who are hearing impaired. When placed in situations where noise is a huge factor, the hearing function of an impaired person changes, the neurons in the inner ear work even harder to transmit messages to the brain. If you consider how even in environments where noise is minimal, the hearing impaired struggle to make out basic conversation or follow an understand basic instructions, you can only imagine the chaos caused in a noisy environment. The normal hearing protection aids pose more of a problem for hearing impaired employees as these aids normally muffle sounds even more, taking them below the threshold they can make out. A further complication comes when those who normally wear hearing aid devices wish to continue using them even when in noisy environments.Whereas hearing aids assist these individual to effectively communicate and hear warning signals, the hearing aids do amplify background noise which often takes noise levels above the safe threshold as far as the OHSA is concerned. In certain instances ear muffs may be worn over a hearing aid for protection or if no protection worn, the hearing aid should be turne off.
How Can You Identify If An Emplolyee is Hearing Impaired
There are cases where employees are not known to have a hearing impairment and this must be efficiently ascertained. Once this is realized, the degree of hearing loss must be identified. In order to test the hearing loss in a noisy environment, audiometric testing must be carried out using OSHA certified practitioners and procedures. In extreme cases where valid results are not achieved through on-site testing, additional audiometric testing may be required at off-site facilities.
Alternative Solutions To Hearing Protection For The Hearing Impaired
Earmuffs that incorporate wired or wireless communication devices are becoming more popular for individuals who are hearing impaired. This limits incoming sounds and reduce sound or noise levels that could cause further damage to a hearing impaired individuals remaining hearing.
Passive hearing protection is a mechanical method of muffling sound and filtering it appropriately if it is correctly fitted. Employees are able to hear effectively while still protecting their remaining hearing.
This is usually effective in those who have lost high frequency hearing.
Active hearing protectors amplify sound to a level that is predetermined. In quieter environments these active hearing protectors do not have to be removed, environmental sounds can still be heard. To buy an active hearing protector with advanced sound amplification technology, visit our website.
Comfort and Safety Are Paramount
Hearing protection, as with any other equipment, can be of the highest quality and price but if it isn’s comfortable to wear, a hearing impaired individual, or any individual, won’t wear it. The best hearing protection is the one that your employee won’t take off. Removing your hearing protection even for a short while can have detrimental results. The overall effiveness of any hearing protection is reduce considerably during these periods.
It must always be carefully taken into consideration that the employee is hearing impaired and already faces certain challenges. What works for an employee of normal hearing may not be effective for a hearing impaired individual. It is always best to perform fit testing in the workplace making options available for the employee to find the fit that suits their comfort and the application as well as the environment.
Monitor Hearing Changes
As with those who have normal hearing, the hearing of those who are hearing impaired must be monitored regularly to ascertain whether the working environment is causing more damage and to identify whether or not the hearing protection being used is adequate or not. Audiometric testing should be carried out yearly and result measured agains t the baseline test undertaken at the begiinning of employement. The results should be made availabe to the employees and counselling should be provided in cases where results show a loss of hearing in any degree.
Often employees don’t want to admit to a hearing loss because they fear for their jobs. It must be remember that any discrimiation against a hearing impaired individual is against the rights of the individual. Any employee should not feel threatened at the thought of approaching their employer for assistance and the employee should be readily available to lend a helping hand.
It has been revealed that in many instances hearing impairment is not realized through testing but rather through body language on the job. Many a time a supervisor has noted certain movements made during conversation that indicate there may be a problem. Tilting the head to use the good ear, concentrating on lip movements to read what is being said, asking for instructions to be repeate often and warning sounds and signs often ignored. This alone is a safety risk and if recognized should sound warning bells and have that employee on the way to audiometric testing in a hurry. Should an accident occur and the employer has been notified there may be a problem, there could be serious consequences got he employer and the legal and financial implications could be devastating.
An employee should never feel they are being targeted by having to take audiometric testing to evaluate hearing levels. Whether this is done at the beginning of employement, as it shoud, or when a potential problem is indicated, it is a process that is in place to safeguard theemployer as well as the employee. Should hearing loss occur due to work environement conditions the results of this initial tesing and the regular follow up testing will be their tool to gain compensation for the damage caused. On the other hand should hearing loss already be present and future tests reveal no change there is no way the employer could be given just cause for the initial recorded loss. If however no audiometric testing is carried out, the employer will have a very difficult time proving that the hearing loss was present beforehand and this relaxe attitude may be their downfall.
Hearing loss is nothing to be ashamed of definitely nothing that should hinder you from pursuing your dream job. No employer will discriminate against a hearing impaired individual if all the skills and requirements are met and exceeded. There are laws protecting employees from this kind of behaviour and they are laws no employer wants to be on the wrong end of.
Of course health and safety are always at the forefront in any workplace and where hearing impaired individuals are concerned there are certain adjustments that need to made in order for the processes to work effectively. Different devices need to be put in place for those who have a hearing impairment and as always comfort of the device is paramount whether hearing impaired or not.
Employers need to supply choices for individuals and allow them to select a device they will always wear to ensure maximum overall effectiveness.
Audiometric testing is a tool to aid both parties and to make the working experience one that is enjoyable and productive. Any business will flourish if the the employees are happy. A happy, safe and well-looked after workforce equates to productivity and in the end, profits.
Take control of you life today and advance in your career. You may find your commuication and productivity improve after realizing the problem. Don’t run from it, enbrace it and make the changes. Hiding or avoiding a possible problem is not helping anyone, employer or employee. It is in the best interest of all parties that audiometric testing is carried out as part of the initial employment enrolment programme, however, it means nothing if regular audiometric testing is not carried out once every two years. Results need to be properly documented for comparison purposes and results should always be made available to employees regardless of the results.