Ever notice how many contractors are loud talkers? It probably isn’t just because they want your attention. Continued exposure to equipment and tool noise can often result in hearing loss, especially for people who skimp on ear protection. Because there are many more obvious dangers on most home projects (fumes, burns, flying debris), ear protection often gets overlooked. Consequently, noise on the job site—a very serious and insidious hazard—is often an afterthought until it’s too late.
Shrieking shop vacuums, whining saws, rumbling generators, and growling compressors resonate through job sites every day. Any one of these items can easily emit more than 85 decibels of sound (and some well over 100), a level that can cause temporary hearing loss after just one hour of unprotected exposure. Exposure to excessive noise is the second leading cause of hearing loss (behind aging), and audiologists are seeing more impairment at younger ages than ever before. Many experts believe that age-related hearing loss is also directly related to the cumulative effect of noise exposure through the years, so how you take care of your ears today really does make a difference.
The simplest protection measure for ears—wearing earplugs—is often skipped because earplugs are an extra step to remember, aren’t always handy, and, well, people think they look silly. But since prolonged exposure to loud noise, even short bursts of sound at high decibels, can cause permanent hearing loss, it’s worth taking a minute to make sure your eardrums are covered.