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  • Hearing Protection: An Important Aspect of Job Site Safety

Hearing protection is crucial for anyone who carries out concrete construction work. Why? Because crew members are around loud, damaging noise each and every day. Take concrete chipping pros, for instance.

Concrete chippers work in confined spaces, using jackhammers to chip away at layers of hardened concrete inside the drums of ready-mix concrete trucks. The spaces’ nature makes it so that noise has nowhere to escape, amplifying the sound that makes its way to the chipper’s exposed eardrum. This can impact tiny fibers inside the ear which help the person hear — and, once damaged, those fibers can’t be repaired.

In addition, hearing damage has a tendency to sneak up on its victims. Unlike injuries such as scrapes and falls, loud noises aren’t associated with pain or instant side effects. Issues related to hearing protection aren’t usually identified until after the damage is done and a certain amount of a person’s hearing is gone for good. Understanding the environment a person works in, as well as their related noise levels, is key to knowing how to help crew members protect their hearing. Read on to learn more.

Warning Signs of Hearing Loss
There are a few telltale signs that something might be wrong with a person’s hearing. By understanding those signs — and keeping an active eye out for them — they have a better chance of stopping further hearing loss from making itself known. A ringing or humming in the ears after a person leaves work for the day could indicate they’ve been adversely affected by noise levels around them, for instance. If a person finds themselves shouting in order to communicate with someone within arm’s length, or if they experience temporary hearing loss, those could also be signs of damage.

Wear Hearing Protection Properly
There are multiple forms of hearing protection. Some of the most common forms are foam earplugs that twist into the ear canal and expand, pre-molded plugs that fit snug to seal the ear canal and earmuffs that fit over the ear. A person should base their decision on the option that feels most comfortable while also considering their occupation and the type of noise to which they are most frequently exposed. Remember, hearing protection should be worn for noise levels of 85 decibels (dB) or greater. No matter which type a person picks, hearing protection only works when worn properly. Encourage crew members to read through all instructions thoroughly to ensure their personal protective equipment (PPE) can do its job.

Ensure Hearing Protection is Rated for Use
When selecting the right hearing protection for the job, a person should ensure the noise reduction rating (NRR) makes sense. Please note, this calculation isn’t always cut and dried. To determine that number, take the NRR number, subtract seven and then divide it by two. For example, if the NRR is 29 dB, you would subtract seven from 29 to get 22 — then divide it in half for a final number of 11 dB. From there, a person can subtract that number from the noise level they’re exposed to. The end result? Their exposure level when hearing protection is in use.

Concrete construction workers are no stranger to the dangers posed on the job — and job site safety should be the No. 1 priority on any construction site. If you have additional questions about this or any other safety topic, or if you’re ready to schedule routine maintenance for your ready-mix concrete drums, contact us! We’d love to hear from you.

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