When noise is more than a nuisance: Protecting ears & the space between

As a parent, you can take straightforward and sensible precautions to protect your kids’ hearing: Keep music, television, and gaming volumes at safe levels. If your wee one loves music festivals, put some protective ear muffs on her; they work, and look just about too cute for words.


Feeling that sweet, sweet bass though!

As a resident affected by the sounds of traffic, construction, or noisy neighbours, you can close your windows, wear earplugs, and call your municipal government office to lodge complaints if you’re hearing power tools during legislated quiet hours.

As a driver, you can play music in your vehicle at a comfortable volume; loud enough to keep you alert and entertained, quiet enough to ensure you hear other drivers when they honk or curse.

As a pedestrian, you can cover your ears when sirens blare past. You can also glower at drivers who lean on their horns too long and/or for no good reason. Although this won’t do much to protect your hearing, anecdotal evidence suggests it’s oddly gratifying.

But nowhere is it more critical to protect your hearing than the environment you spend 40 (give or take) weekly hours. Unless you’re retired or a minor, that environment is likely to be the workplace.

Protecting your hearing on the job

If you’re lucky, the place you work will have been properly constructed to ensure safe and comfortable acoustics. If not, you can still take measures to protect your hearing. And if you’re an employer, especially one that oversees an unavoidably loud work environment, be aware that in all likelihood you’re legally required to provide effective hearing protection options for your team.

Unsurprisingly, the most effective approaches to preventing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) consist of removing the noise sources or engineering them to reduce their emissions. Where these measures aren’t possible, workers may need to wear hearing protection devices.

How do we determine if hearing protection is necessary? Well, not all noise is created equal; effects on hearing health depend on both intensity and duration of a given sound. It’s not a stretch to suggest that if you have to shout frequently, either your environment is too loud or you’re stressed and need to take a break from said environment. In its fact sheet on hearing protection at work, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) addresses this question and others.

People should wear a hearing protector if the noise or sound level at the workplace exceeds 85 decibels (A-weighted) or dBA. Hearing protectors reduce the noise exposure level and the risk of hearing loss. —CCOHS

“If hearing protection is required, then a complete hearing conservation program should be implemented,” according to CCOHS. “A hearing conservation program includes noise assessment, hearing protector selection, employee training and education, audiometric testing, maintenance, inspection, record keeping, and program evaluation.”

CCOHS advises choosing hearing protection devices that are:

  • Correct for the job. Refer to the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Standard Z94.2-14 “Hearing Protection Devices – Performance, Selection, Care and Use” or contact the agency responsible for occupational health and safety legislation in your jurisdiction for more information.
  • Adequately protective. Check the manufacturer’s literature.
  • Compatible with other required personal protective equipment, or communication devices.
  • Comfortable enough to be accepted and worn.
  • Appropriate for the temperature and humidity in the workplace.
  • Designed to provide adequate communication and audibility needs (e.g., the ability to hear alarms or warning sounds).

Ultimately, whether at home, play, or work, the best hearing protection device is one that’s worn. If you’d like to know more about how to prevent unsafe noise emission or mitigate its sometimes unavoidable effects, please don’t hesitate to give us a shout (euphemistically speaking) anytime.

Recent Post

Starfish Communications

Destination: Acoustical Consulting Career

A number of UK and EU-based universities offer Acoustical Engineering degree programs at levels from undergraduate to PhD. If you live in Canada or the US, however, you’ll find that those highly specialized degree programs aren’t offered on this side of the Atlantic.

But if a career in acoustical engineering consultancy sounds like it might be your cup of Earl grey, take heart. Your journey needn’t begin overseas. Here’s how you can get there from here.

Read More »
Starfish Communications

Welcome home, Farbod!

In which we introduce our newest team member, Farbod Ghanouni…

A graduate of both Lakewood University (BE, Mechanical Engineering) andBritish Columbia Institute of Technology (Mechanical Systems Diploma, Mechanical Engineering), Acoustic Engineer Farbod Ghanouni joined the BAP Acoustics Port Moody team in late August.
“I’d been working in the field for a while when I heard great things about BAP Acoustics,” Farbod says. “I also saw firsthand the quality of their work, so I started to think about the possibility of joining the company.”

Read More »
Starfish Communications

WELL done acoustics with a side of Green

The fact that I’m wearing noise-cancelling headphones as I write strikes me as both ironic and illustrative of how much and how insidiously noise can affect us at work, rest, or play. With all the construction underway in my neighbourhood, I’m relieved to discover that the sounds of recorded waterfalls, surf, rain—or even Drum & Bass—are far more conducive to cognitive focus than, say, the dulcet tones of jackhammers or chainsaws. Though currently home-based, I have worked in conventional office environments, researching and writing amidst colleagues engaged in activities and conversations sometimes no less, um…dulcet, and I suspect wearing headphones to tune them out would probably have been construed as rude.

Read More »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Our Mailing List

We would like to share our stories and news with you