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Good Workplace Practices
In observation of OSHA Safe + Sound Week, 2020


Preventing Occupational Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

  1. Know your risks for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Employees in noise-heavy industries such as construction and mining are, of course, at high risk for developing noise, but anyone who is exposed to more than 85 decibels of noise is at risk for NIHL.

  2. Learn whether the noise in your workplace is at a hazardous level. One rule of thumb is that you should not need to raise your voice to speak to somebody an arm’s length away. 

  3. Seek out hearing protection devices even if your employer does not require you to use them. Make sure that your hearing protection devices fit correctly and are suitable for the specific kind of workplace noise. 

  4. Reach out to a supervisor or employer to ask them to monitor the noise levels in your workplace. You can also monitor these levels yourself using a sound meter app. Remember, 85 dB or more of noise is considered hazardous.

  5. If you listen to music while working, monitor the sound levels of your music and keep them at a safe level. Try not to listen to music in noisy environments. 

  6. Try to reduce noise at its source if possible. If you use loud equipment, check if there is appropriate lubrication; this may help lower the noise in your workplace. 


Hearing Self-Monitoring

If you are 18 to 64 years old, answer the following questions 

  • Do you sometimes feel embarrassed when you meet new people because you struggle to hear?

  • Do you feel frustrated when talking to members of your family because you have difficulty hearing them?

  • Do you have difficulty hearing or understanding co-workers, clients, or customers?

  • Do you feel restricted or limited by a hearing problem?

  • Do you have difficulty hearing when visiting friends, relatives, or neighbors?

  • Do you have trouble hearing in the movies or in the theater?

  • Does a hearing problem cause you to argue with family members?

  • Do you have trouble hearing the TV or radio at levels that are loud enough for others?

  • Do you feel that any difficulty with your hearing limits your personal life or social life?

  • Do you have trouble hearing family or friends when you are together in a restaurant?

If you answered “yes” to three or more of these questions, you may want to see an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat specialist) or an audiologist for a hearing evaluation.

Source NIH

Accessible Meetings for Employees With Hearing Loss

  • During meetings, face your audience and leave your face unobscured. Don’t talk while handing out papers or doing anything that requires you to turn away.

  • Repeat questions before answering them, so that everyone listening can hear the original question.

  • Minimize background noise (close doors/windows if necessary).

  • Use all possible assistive listening technology or microphones during meetings. Make sure that you’re comfortable with using the technology correctly, and reach out to IT if necessary make sure you’re using it correctly.

  • Make important announcements in writing online, not just verbally.

  • If using videos, use captioned videos or provide a transcript of the video if you can’t find a captioned version.

  • When doing Powerpoint presentations, try to use live captions. Powerpoint for Microsoft 365 has this capability.

  • Leave space in the front of the room so hearing-impaired employees can sit there if they choose.

  • Make sure that all important information is displayed on slides and easy to see (you can be seen from all seats, the lighting is good, etc.)

  • Ask for (anonymous) feedback on meetings and presentations.

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