In many industrial settings, a lot of the safety considerations are in place to prevent obvious physical injuries like cuts, falls, slips, trips and so on. However, an often-overlooked consideration on this front is the impact that working in a noisy environment can have on workers' long-term hearing. For that reason, it's absolutely vital to make sure they have ample opportunity to protect their hearing when working under your roof.
With that in mind, the following suggestions should help you provide more protection for your employees' hearing:
1) Make it an everyday consideration
In much the same way you build safety culture into many other things you do, everyone in your factory should aim to keep hearing protection at top of mind, according to EHS Today. That way, risk is reduced at all times, and no one is going to try to react to a potentially hazardous situation too late.
2) Ensure workers know how to safely use the PPE you provide
You wouldn't let an employee head out to do some basic work anywhere in your facility without ensuring they know how to properly use their safety equipment, so the same should be true of hearing protection, EHS Today said. For the most part, this is straightforward, but it's vital to ensure they're wearing whatever PPE you provide as recommended by the manufacturer.
3) Provide job task options
If people are worried about damaging their hearing (such as if they are already experiencing hearing loss), it's vital to give them more options than just tasks that further put them at risk, EHS Today advised. Even if you can rotate people in and out of these roles, it will be better than putting high-risk workers in a tough situation.
4) Think about how other PPE might interfere
Depending on the industrial setting, you probably require employees to wear more than one type of PPE at the same time, but these can interfere with how effective each one is, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For instance, workers required to wear eye protection or a hard hat could disrupt the effectiveness of their ear muffs. If so, you may need to look at other options.
5) Measure decibels to determine the right PPE to buy
In some factories, noise is loud, but not extreme, and you can get away with only providing ear plugs, the CDC added. However, in others, you'll need something more heavy-duty. Measure the normal decibel levels in these spaces and tailor your PPE purchases to give workers the protection they need.
6) Put up signage
Not all areas of your facility are likely to be dangerously loud, but for those that are, posting warning signs is a good idea, according to Graphic Products. This serves as another reminder that some extra PPE is needed.
7) Do as much as you can to isolate or limit noise
Similarly, consider making sure your noisiest tasks are siloed off from the rest of the facility in some way, Graphic Products cautioned. By doing so, you add an extra layer of protection for your workers even before they put on their PPE.