Dobra Property Maintenance LLC is a full service property maintenance company in Central New Jersey. We provide landscaping, lawn care, fertilizing, pest control, hardscaping, snow removal and related services to commercial and residential clients.
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Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Not-so sweet sounds
Hearing loss is a major problem in the industry, but goes unnoticed at first.
When people outside the industry ask about the biggest safety risk for landscape contractors, my answer is always the same: “If by ‘biggest safety risk,’ you mean what could kill them, it’s a piece of equipment rolling over on them. But the hazard that landscapers face every day is noise exposure and hearing loss.”
It’s hard to find statistics specifically on the landscape industry, but the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says occupational hearing loss is the most common work-related illness in the United States, estimating 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that nearly 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss since 2004. If you work in the field and don’t practice good hearing safety, you will experience hearing loss.
Hearing loss is a tricky problem: It usually causes no pain, has no visible trauma, leaves no scars and is completely unnoticeable in the early stages. It accumulates with each exposure and can take years to notice any changes. It can’t be cured, but it can be prevented with good hearing safety practices.
Hearing loss is a function of noise level (measured in decibels) and exposure time, but a small increase in noise, only 3 dB, cuts the safe exposure time in half. Hazardous noise levels are defined as exposure above 85 dB for an 8-hour work day. That is roughly equivalent to being on, or around, a fairway or rough mower all day. If you are operating a chainsaw at more than 100dB, you could experience hearing loss in as little as 15 minutes.