Training Series (Year 6)

Responses to Questions and Complaints

Regarding Hearing and Hearing Protection

In the field at the many different plants we have visited, we have been asked many questions and have heard many excuses for not wearing hearing protection devices (HPD’s). Here are a few of our favorites with our responses.  Please remember a noise induced hearing loss is permanent. Aging, injuries, and illnesses all can reduce our ability to hear. To lose our hearing through noise abuse is unnecessary.

Complaint:   Hearing Protectors are uncomfortable.

Response:  HPD's are often uncomfortable initially, but hearing loss due to noise exposure is “uncomfortable” permanently. Just like football pads or baseball catcher’s equipment. HPD’S require a reasonable period of adjustment. If after a couple of weeks of daily use and you are still experiencing difficulties or discomfort; you should pick out a different type provided and give them a try.

Complaint:  I can’t hear my fellow employees if I wear my hearing protectors.

Response:  When the ear is bombarded with sound, it distorts, reducing the ability to accurately discriminate different sounds. Wearing HPD’S reduces the overall sound levels so that the ear can operate more efficiently. The effect is similar to the improved vision that sunglasses provide in very bright conditions.

Excuse:  I don’t need H PD’S. I am accustomed to the noise.

Response:  Ears don’t get accustomed to the noise they ‘get deaf’ and unfortunately a deafened ear may often seem to get accustomed to the noise. Repeated exposure to noise does not toughen ears nor does having a noise induced hearing loss prevent you from losing hearing you have left.

Question:  I’ve already lost some or most of my hearing: why should I have to wear hearing protection?

Response:  The existence of a noise induced hearing loss does not protect one from losing further hearing due to noise exposure. Hearing loss due to noise occurs in the high frequency range, speech frequencies are lower pitch that we lose after noise has already damaged our high pitch frequency receptors. HPD’S do not restore our ability to hear: they do however if worn properly and every time we are exposed to hazardous levels of noise, prevent further hearing loss.

Excuse:  I don’t need to worry about my hearing. I can always get a hearing aid. (This is my favorite)

Response:  Eyeglasses can in most cases correct a vision problem to a nearly normal condition; it is a misconception Hearing Aids can do likewise for a noise induced hearing loss.

Hearing Aids amplify sound. When insufficient hair cells are present to receive the amplified sounds that the aids provide, the results are not satisfactory. Food for thought.... If wearing HPD’S 8 hours a day is objectionable, will it be any more acceptable to wear a hearing aid (which feeds sound into the ear through an earplug like device) for all of one’s waking hours?