The right ear protection for mine workers

Millions of Australians suffer from noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), causing companies billions of dollars in damages.

Hearing protection is required in any workplace environment where the average noise exposure over an eight hour period is over 85 decibels (dB).

According to Safe Work Australia code of practice, activities that exceed this exposure level include longwall mining, shaft sinking, underground coal transport, continuous miners and roof bolting.

Taking hearing protection off for only 10 minutes in one full day in a noisy environment reduces the overall protection by 40 per cent.

However, NIHL is completely preventable if the right measures are taken and the right hearing protection is worn.

According to Pacific Ears Australia, discomfort (such as safety glasses and helmets being too loose or too tight, sweating, etc.) and over-attenuation (too much sound reduction) are two main factors that result in personnel not wearing hearing protection.

“Too much sound damping takes the user away from their environment, making them detached and will lead to taking the hearing protection out or off, often to hear others or the radio for instance.

“On the other hand, over-attenuation can also endanger the user, as warning sounds are blocked more than they should as well,” Pacific Ears stated.

Custom-made earplugs can be a solution thanks to their comfort, discreetness and durability; they’re made to suit the person, their ears and the specific environment.

The ACS Pro27 custom-made, soft silicone ear plugs from Pacific Ears were described as a “breakthrough” in high-noise filtering.

“The ACS Pro27 has an almost flat sound reduction 23dB through the low and mid-range frequencies so allow for situational awareness and the ability to communicate,” Pacific Ears stated.

“(It’s) a stark jump in protection in the higher frequencies where it is needed. Up to 35dB, increasing your safe exposure time up to nine times.”

According to Pacific Ears, hearing protection is a critical part of personal protective equipment (PPE) that is rarely at the forefront of discussions.

Damage to one’s hearing mostly goes unnoticed for years, contrary to other injuries that are directly more visible and noticeable.

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