Avoid the Noise: How to Stop Noise Pollution in the Workplace

Avoid the Noise: How to Stop Noise Pollution in the Workplace

April 4, 2022
A man wearing headphones to stop the noise

If you frequently work with forklifts or other noisy machinery, then you may slowly be damaging your hearing.  


Many employers have safety precautions in place to protect your body while you work. However, many of these programs and initiatives are focused on protecting your musculoskeletal health and preventing physical trauma.  


While preventing forceful trauma is certainly a high priority for physical labor professions, it is important to be cognizant of the fact that forklifts and other similar machines output high levels of noise during operation. The amount of noise is multiplied if multiple forklifts are in use.  


Many workers who operate or work in conjunction with forklifts frequently experience hearing loss or tinnitus later in life if their ears are not properly protected.  


In this post, we will explain how the noises produced by forklifts can damage your hearing and the steps you can take to prevent damage.  


The Cause of Hearing Damage 


If you work near forklifts every day then you know that while they are not deafening, forklifts do produce a significant amount of noise. Repeated exposure to the noise produced by heavy machinery can have disastrous effects on your hearing.  


There are two main types of hearing damage that you need to watch out for.  


The first is called percussive trauma. It is caused by loud, sudden noises that force the tympanic membrane (or eardrum) to rupture.  


The second type comes from continuous exposure to loud noise that gradually (and permanently) reduces your hearing sensitivity. 


While the first type is often feared, the second type is the more insidious of the two.  


When you are consistently exposed to loud noises, like those that forklifts emit, your hearing will slowly dwindle in sensitivity. This second type of hearing loss is harder to recognize through audits and studies. As a result, workers will often operate unprotected.  


How to Protect Workers’ Ears 


The safety supervisor is required to conduct a noise audit at least once per year. While this is a good start, and it catches many of the more prominent noise issues, some hazards can slip through the cracks. 


Semi-annual or quarterly audits are better as they ensure that the safety supervisor will get more accurate results. Check your state’s guidelines to ensure that your company is meeting the requirements. 


On the day of the audit, the safety supervisor must check ambient noise levels throughout the workplace. Audit every room, space, or outdoor area where forklifts or heavy machinery are operated.  


Remember that forklifts move. If they spend time in small spaces, even if they are just passing through, those spaces should be audited. Audit every space where work is done, or employees spend time. Include off-site workspaces as well, if applicable. 


 Use decibel measuring equipment and test every employer-owned space at every hour of an average shift. That means if your workplace works a 12-hour day, every space needs to be audited 12 times.  


A comprehensive audit will tell you what needs to be done to tackle noise pollution.  


One of the most common solutions is enforcing the use of protective ear guards or noise-canceling headphones for all employees who work near forklifts or machinery.  


Muffling the source of the noise and adapting your forklifts to be quieter is another solution. While more costly, this is a long-term solution and not dependent on individual employees.  


A third solution is to put a sound-absorbing partition between machinery and employees. While this doesn't work for employees operating forklifts, insulating employees who work nearby can help save their hearing.  


Ear-Friend Forklifts 


While forklifts are one of the most common types of machines you will work with daily, any noisy machine can cause long-term hearing damage.  


Hearing safety protocols are in place for a reason. If your workplace implements safety procedures that are designed to protect your hearing, you must follow them. Ignoring safety protocols can cause you to incur fines or worse, long-term damage to your health. 


If your company is looking for top-of-the-line Princeton forklifts or wants to protect your employees' hearing with noise-muffling, reach out to Beamers Piggyback. At Beamers Piggyback, we handle all your forklift needs.  


If you want a superior Princeton Forklift that puts your employees’ safety first, reach out to Beamers Piggyback today.