Exposure to Loud Noise During a Work Shift Can Harm Your Hearing

Shift employment helps businesses stay open, serve their customers at all day hours, and is an essential part of the workforce. Employees work in shifts of a set number of hours, such as eight, before another employee takes over for a different shift, as implied by the name. For example, one employee might perform a morning shift from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. before being replaced by another employee from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m.


Shift labor allows businesses to function 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no gaps in coverage. While this may be great for employers and the customers of the service, workers generally lose out. From abnormal routines to disrupted sleep patterns, shift work can be hard on the body and mind. And now, recent research has found that shift work and noise can even lead to hearing loss.


According to a Chinese study, when combined with occupational noise exposure, shift employment increases the risk of hearing loss. Hearing loss was most common among those who worked the most extended shifts and were exposed to the most noise. Interestingly, hearing loss was also considerably higher in women who worked shifts for less than ten years.

How can shift work cause hearing loss?

There may be nothing inherently harmful about the amount or duration of labor that causes hearing loss. Still, shift employment appears to be concentrated in industries where noise is a problem. Let’s look at some of the most prevalent occupations that require shift work:


  • Servers
  • Hairdressers
  • Musicians
  • Doctors
  • Firefighters
  • Truck drivers
  • Assembly line workers


It would have been interesting to see the kind of work the workers were engaged in, as this would let us observe whether certain kinds of jobs were more likely to induce hearing loss in their workers.  


How can noise cause hearing loss?

Noisy environments in the workplace are a leading cause of hearing loss and workplace injuries in the United States of America. Every day, 40 million employed individuals are exposed to hazardous noise levels. Ten million have already suffered irreversible hearing impairment due to this noise.


The human ear does not tolerate high sound levels, such as those generated by combustion engines, pneumatic pumps, and repetitive mechanical noise. The sound may be detected and processed at a wide range of frequencies thanks to our hearing system. Even so, modern industrialization’s high sound levels, such as those produced by combustion engines, pneumatic pumps, and repeated, loud machine noise, are beyond the ear’s capacity to handle.


While age-related hearing loss is frequently the result of a lifetime of wear and tear on your auditory system, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is virtually entirely avoidable. Young children’s hearing sensitivity allows them to notice very mild noises when they are not deafened. 


Still, industrial noise impairs hearing in a way that is similar to the consequences of aging. Hearing loss is common as people get older. Still, the average healthy, non-noise-exposed person can maintain virtually normal hearing until they reach the age of 60.


Noise’s effects are frequently underestimated due to the gradual nature of the harm. As a result, most people are unaware of the substantial impact of NIHL on their daily lives until they are annoyed by a persistent communication problem or have constant ringing in their ears. Before NIHL becomes a persistent problem, there are techniques to prevent it.


Protect your hearing

Your ears are at risk of harm if the noise is 85 decibels or higher. Jet engines, lawnmowers, motorbikes, chainsaws, powerboats, and personal listening devices are all sources of loud noises. If you have to raise your voice to be heard by someone within an arm’s reach, the noise is likely dangerous. More rigorous noise measurements can be used to establish noise exposure concerns, and the Occupational Safety and Health Association requires them in most industries (OSHA).


If your job requires you to be regularly exposed to loud noise, ensure you follow your employer’s protective device rules. If your employer does not provide custom ear protection, consider buying your own. Custom ear protection built from molds of your ear canals is available from Gulf Gate Hearing Center. This shields you from higher decibels while still allowing you to hear the sounds you need to work effectively.


Furthermore, annual hearing tests are necessary to create a baseline for your hearing ability. Consider contacting us for a hearing test if you work in a noisy setting.