Electronic Hearing Protection Can Prevent NIHL without Impeding Communication
The danger posed by constant exposure to loud noises should never be underestimated. According to a WHO survey performed in 2011, some 24% of Americans aged between 20 and 69 demonstrated an audiometric pattern that is thought to be consistent with noise-induced hearing loss or NIHL. Some degree of auditory impairment is a natural consequence of aging and, as such, almost inevitable. By contrast, providing that suitable precautions are taken, NIHL is a wholly preventable condition. Commonly affecting workers required to operate in noisy environments, just a simple pair of earplugs could help reduce the risk. Far more effective, however, would be some form of electronic hearing protection.
The Various Types of Ear Protection and Their Relative Merits
There are a several reasons why we may require some form of ear protection to shield ourselves from unwanted noise. For example, many people experience difficulty in sleeping, perhaps because of a partner’s tendency to snore, or simply because they are “light sleepers” and are easily awakened by even the faintest of sounds.
Despite the stringent government regulations relating to health and safety in the workplace, the incidence of industrial injury remains unacceptably high in many countries. Even though it is common enough to find notices displayed on South Africa’s mines proudly declaring that it has been 250 days or more since the last accident, not all industrial injuries are visible. In a high-risk environment such as this, one will rarely see a worker without a hard hat to protect against head injuries. Rather less obvious, however, may be the absence of earplugs that have the potential to save that worker from a lifetime of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).