You probably know that noise exposure can lead to hearing damage and loss and that some workplaces and job environments come with a lot of noise exposure. Did you know, however, that nearly 24 percent of hearing impairment cases among U.S. workers is attributable to workplace noise exposure?
That’s nearly one-quarter of all hearing impairment cases among U.S. workers! If workplace noise exposure is to blame for such a large percentage of hearing impairment cases, we can easily infer that reducing noise exposure in workplaces can help to prevent nearly one in four cases of hearing impairment among U.S. workers.
When you think of jobs with high noise exposure, you might automatically think of manufacturing jobs, factory workers, or construction workers. However, a wide variety of workplaces can come with a risk for noise exposure. Some of the noisiest jobs include airline ground crew, carpenters, DJs, nightclub workers, farmers, and truck drivers.
Even if you do not work in one of these high-noise risk jobs, you could be at risk for serious noise exposure at your work. In the past, it was difficult to measure whether a workplace’s noise level was considered dangerous or not; learning about noise exposure at any workplace (or other location) required expensive equipment and professional expertise. Fortunately, things are getting easier, thanks to technology.
Nowadays, various mobile phone applications (“apps”) are available that can easily and accurately estimate noise exposure at a given location. These apps can also make recommendations for appropriately protecting your hearing. With these apps and other online tools, the general population is now able to better monitor noise exposure and take proper steps to prevent hearing loss.
In addition, new hearing testing platforms have been created to help with early identification of hearing damage. While these tools are still being developed, the research is promising that portable, economical, and reliable devices will soon be available. Early testing has shown that such mobile devices provide results comparable to conventional computer-automated audiometry.
Technology also promises more convenient ways to monitor noise exposure over time and provide the gathered data to hearing professionals. Fitness trackers are becoming increasingly popular, and over time, they may come to include a noise sensor that can send noise exposure data to hearing providers, who can then provide personalized recommendations, testing, and treatment to their patients.
While workplaces more often focus on hearing protection than on reducing noise exposure, research indicates that reducing noise exposure is most effective in decreasing the risk of hearing damage. In the past few years, many new technologies have come forward to reduce workplace noise. In addition to high-tech options, some basic yet effective recommendations have come forward, such as switching out certain pieces of equipment, like metal cart wheels, for quieter versions, like rubber cart wheels.
“Hearables” are another new piece of hearing technology, with advancements happening at lightning speed. These devices are being developed by established hearing aid companies, as well as technology giants like Amazon, Google, and Apple. Hearables are earphones and earpieces equipped with artificial intelligence (AI), which can help cancel out background noise and learn the wearer’s listening habits and environment. With this new technology, hearing devices are more personalized than ever before for an optimal listening experience.
At our audiology practice, we are committed to staying up to date with the latest technology and advancements in the hearing field. Whether you believe your workplace has excessive noise exposure or you suspect that you are already experiencing hearing loss, we are here to care for you. Please contact us today to learn more.