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3M will use Noise Action Week on 26-30 April to demonstrate to workers in all types of jobs that hearing protection can be critical to their long-term health.

According to the company, thousands of workers are at risk of long-term hearing damage simply because they do not like the ear protectors their employers provide.

What they may not realise is that they can have a choice; if the standard hearing protection provided is uncomfortable, workers should raise this with their managers and ask for alternative options to be considered.

Sue Poole, product manager for 3M’s Occupational Health and Environmental Safety Division, said: ‘The most common reason given for employees’ failure to wear the necessary hearing protection is that they find it uncomfortable.

‘But workers can have a choice; if what they are given doesn’t suit them, they should discuss this with their immediate managers and ask for the opportunity to try other types of hearing protection.

‘The Health and Safety Executive [HSE] guidelines to employers on hearing protection advise that employers should offer a choice so their concerns should be dealt with sympathetically,’ she added.

In many cases, uncomfortable hearing protection can pose just as much risk as no protection.

If hearing protection is removed for any length of time in a noisy environment, the level of protection for the wearer is decreased.

This can lead to hearing impairment over time – with the extent of the damage depending on the frequency and length of time exposed.

As well as ensuring that the correct level of hearing protection is used, 3M’s specialists warn against overprotection.

A common mistake is to over-attenuate, with products offering more protection than the situation demands.

As a result of this, workers will become isolated from their environment and periodically remove their protection to talk to colleagues, thus exposing themselves to harm.

Hearing protection that provides too much attenuation for a wearer will also create additional risks, such as not being able to hear warning signals such fire alarms or reversing vehicles.

Poole continued: ‘There are different types of hearing protection, including disposable or reusable earplugs, banded earplugs or headphone-style earmuffs.

‘Within the HSE guidance, employers must offer a selection of hearing protection appropriate to the noise levels in the workplace, so the individual worker should be able to choose what they find most comfortable for long-term usage.

‘Even at levels where hearing protection is advisory rather than compulsory, hearing protection can make working conditions more comfortable if chosen and fitted properly,’ she said.

3M discusses importance of hearing protection

3M will use Noise Action Week on 26-30 April to demonstrate to workers in all types of jobs that hearing protection can be critical to their long-term health.

According to the company, thousands of workers are at risk of long-term hearing damage simply because they do not like the ear protectors their employers provide.

What they may not realise is that they can have a choice; if the standard hearing protection provided is uncomfortable, workers should raise this with their managers and ask for alternative options to be considered.

Sue Poole, product manager for 3M’s Occupational Health and Environmental Safety Division, said: ‘The most common reason given for employees’ failure to wear the necessary hearing protection is that they find it uncomfortable.

‘But workers can have a choice; if what they are given doesn’t suit them, they should discuss this with their immediate managers and ask for the opportunity to try other types of hearing protection.

‘The Health and Safety Executive [HSE] guidelines to employers on hearing protection advise that employers should offer a choice so their concerns should be dealt with sympathetically,’ she added.

In many cases, uncomfortable hearing protection can pose just as much risk as no protection.

If hearing protection is removed for any length of time in a noisy environment, the level of protection for the wearer is decreased.

This can lead to hearing impairment over time – with the extent of the damage depending on the frequency and length of time exposed.

As well as ensuring that the correct level of hearing protection is used, 3M’s specialists warn against overprotection.

A common mistake is to over-attenuate, with products offering more protection than the situation demands.

As a result of this, workers will become isolated from their environment and periodically remove their protection to talk to colleagues, thus exposing themselves to harm.

Hearing protection that provides too much attenuation for a wearer will also create additional risks, such as not being able to hear warning signals such fire alarms or reversing vehicles.

Poole continued: ‘There are different types of hearing protection, including disposable or reusable earplugs, banded earplugs or headphone-style earmuffs.

‘Within the HSE guidance, employers must offer a selection of hearing protection appropriate to the noise levels in the workplace, so the individual worker should be able to choose what they find most comfortable for long-term usage.

‘Even at levels where hearing protection is advisory rather than compulsory, hearing protection can make working conditions more comfortable if chosen and fitted properly,’ she said.

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