Tech for Construction: PPE & Noise Exposure

Exposure to environmental noise is one of the leading causes of hearing loss throughout the world. Every day we are flooded with transport, industrial and recreational noises. Some people have the added hazard of excessive noise in the workplace, like a construction site or warehouse, for example. This constant exposure wears down the delicate nerve hairs in the inner ear in the same way a toothbrush bristles wear down over time.

That damage is irreparable. When it comes to hearing, once it’s gone, it’s gone. So, how can we protect our hearing and preserve it, regardless of environmental noise?

If you are one of the 30 million workers exposed to hazardous levels of noise on the job, hearing loss is likely already happening. While you can’t always control the noise, you can control how you protect yourself. Protective earbuds — like the Jobsite earbuds in ToughTested Noise Control Audio Series — or earmuffs that provide adequate Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) can block out a significant percentage of damaging noise and help prevent hearing loss.  

How loud is too loud?

To best understand what damaging noise is, we need to talk about decibels (dB), or the way we measure sound intensity. On one end, 0 dB is barely audible sound. A normal conversation hovers around 55-65 dB. From there, we move into the higher ranges.

Highway traffic results in around 75 dB and something as simple as a hairdryer accounts for 85 dB. A lawnmower garners 95dB, then it’s around 130 dB for jackhammers and up to 140 dB for firearms or a jet engine. Construction sites, as you can imagine, often creep up over 100dB on a regular basis. Humans experience a variety of decibel ranges throughout the day, even if we aren’t in a manufacturing or construction job. For example, a man walking a few blocks for his morning commute will hear up to 125 decibels from sirens, jackhammers, subway cars, or a motorcycle passing.

So how loud is too loud? Well, if you are exposed to levels at or over 85 dB, particularly for a prolonged time or on a regular basis, you’re at a high risk of hearing loss. That means the man walking every day on the same route in a busy urban area is at considerable risk for hearing loss simply by living and engaging in daily life.

Noise reduction

Our audiologist recommended ToughTested Noise Control Audio Line incorporates noise control technology to offer a number of benefits to keep your hearing safe. Take the ToughTested line of audio products, for example. They all:

  • carry a Noise Reduction Rating of up to 26 dB
  • can reduce the influence of environmental and background noise by up to 30%
  • have a microphone for hands-free communication
  • are compatible with smartphones

Most importantly, they help to protect against hearing loss, tinnitus, and the daily stress of excessive noise by dampening loud vibrations before they can damage your hearing. By blocking out such a large amount of environmental noise, using ToughTested earbuds allows you to keep music and conversations to safe, hearing-preserving levels.

In addition to hearing protection, there is a variety of personal protection equipment (PPE) necessary for safety on the construction site, including:

  • Eye and face protection – safety glasses or face shields should be worn any time your work can result in foreign objects moving towards your eyes
  • Foot protection – construction workers should always wear slip- and puncture- resistant footwear. Safety-toed shoes or boots are also necessary when working with heavy equipment or falling objects
  • Hand protection – gloves should be worn according to the job at hand (i.e., heavy-duty rubber gloves for concrete work, welding gloves for welding, etc.)
  • Head protection – if there are electrical hazards, potential for falling objects, or danger of bumps to the head from fixed objects, hard hats should be worn at all times

We’ve all heard the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. One place where that is certainly the case is with hearing protection. Don’t take your hearing for granted — keep it protected and safe for years to come.