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When is it too loud at work?

While some jobs are more dangerous than others, every workplace has hazards. Whether your position includes using large, heavy machinery or you perform the same motion all day, creating a risk for a repetitive use injury, there are dangers all over the workplace.

You may also expect a certain noise level where you work. While it may not seem too loud, many machines operate above the safety guidelines.

Here’s what you should know about the dangers of working in a loud environment and how you can tell if your workplace is too loud.

The (not-so) subtle impact on your hearing

Being able to hear is an important part of daily life, both at work and in your personal life. While there are many adaptations for hearing loss, it is better to avoid the damage to your hearing if you can.

After months or years of working in the same place, you may get used to the noise level. However, even if you become accustomed to the noises at work, they can still damage your hearing. With time, you may start to notice side effects, such as:

  • Ringing, whooshing or buzzing in your ears
  • Hearing comments that you are talking loudly
  • Feeling pain in your ears
  • Having trouble hearing higher-pitched sounds

When you or your loved ones start to notice that you may have symptoms of hearing loss, it is crucial to take action as soon as possible. You should talk to a medical professional about your treatment options and what you can do to prevent further damage.

How do I know it is too loud at work?

After getting used to the sound level at work, it can be challenging to determine how loud is too loud. A good rule of thumb is to ask someone to stand about three feet away and talk in a normal speaking voice. Your workplace may be too loud if they need to raise their voice for you to hear them.

You can also install an app on your phone to measure the decibel level at work. While these apps are typically not as accurate as a handheld instrument, they can give you a better idea of the noise level at work. If you are seeing readings over the 85-decibel range, it may warrant further investigation.

You should talk to your supervisor or union representative about the noise level in your workplace. If the worksite is too loud, your employer may need to provide safety equipment, training and other benefits to protect your hearing health.