Avoid the Noise

Noise is unwanted sound that can effect job performance, safety, and your health. Psychological effects of noise include annoyance and disruption of concentration. Physical effects include loss of hearing, pain, nausea, and interference with communications when the exposure is severe.

Hearing protection is essential when noise exposures can’t
be controlled at their source. Both
earplugs and earmuffs provide a physical barrier that reduces inner ear noise
levels and prevent hearing loss from occurring. However, people often resist wearing these or
use them incorrectly. Employees resist
wearing hearing protection more than any other type of personal protective

One reason is that they don’t think they really need it. But
hearing loss occurs so gradually (even in intense exposures) that by the time
you notice it, irreversible damage has already occurred. Another reason for not
wearing hearing protection is that it can feel uncomfortable. Sometimes workers
“spring” the muffs so they don’t seal properly against the head, or
snip off the inner portion of ear plugs leaving only the outer end to fool
their supervisor. If you feel the need to do this, see your supervisor about
obtaining a different type or style that fits you comfortably and correctly.

Slight initial discomfort may be expected when a good seal
between the surface of the skin and the surface of the ear protector is made.
The amount of protection you obtain depends on obtaining a good seal and even a
small leak can substantially reduce the effectiveness of the protector.
Remember to check the seal several times each day. Protectors – especially ear
plugs – have a tendency to work loose as a result of talking or chewing, and
must be resealed occasionally.

There are many different styles, types, and brands of ear
protectors available, but when correctly fitted, they all provide similar
levels of protection. The best hearing protector for you is one that fits
correctly so that you can wear it properly.


1. If it is necessary for you to speak in a very loud voice,
or shout directly into the ear of a person to be understood, it is likely that
the noise level is high enough to require hearing protection.

2. If you have roaring or ringing noises in your ears at the
end of the workday, you have probably been exposed to too much noise.

3. If speech or music sounds muffled to you after you leave
work, but it sounds fairly clear in the morning when you return to work, you
are being exposed to noise levels that are causing a temporary hearing loss. In
time, this can become permanent so please take care and use hearing protection.