Do you hear as well as you did when you were younger? Chances are you don’t. In fact, hearing loss is the third most common health issue in America, right behind arthritis and heart disease. By age 65, one-third of Americans are living with hearing loss. These are powerful statistics that should be of concern for all of us. While there may not be anything you can do to recover the hearing you’ve already lost, there are things you can do to preserve your current level of hearing.
One way is to protect your ears at your job, especially if you must work in a noisy lab environment. Today we offer six lab safety or anywhere tips that can help protect your hearing.
Lab Safety Tip #1: Avoid the noise.
Whenever possible, avoid noisy places—not just at work, but everywhere. If you know your hearing isn’t what it used to be, going to a very loud concert may not be the best way to spend your free time. At work, time your breaks or schedule a meeting in another building for when you know your lab environment will be the loudest.
Lab Safety Tip #2: Use earplugs.
If you must stay in a noisy environment, one way of enhancing lab safety is to protect your ears. Earplugs work, so use them, and if you need to talk with a colleague, ask them to step out of the research lab and into another room or adjacent hallway. That way you can remove your earplugs and hold your discussion in a reasonable tone of voice.
Lab Safety Tip #3: Invest in noise-canceling headphones.
Many workers listen to MP3 players on the job in order to help filter out the noise of their work environment. However, if you have to crank up your music in order to hear it, you’re only making the noise problem worse for your ears. Here’s a test. Ask your colleagues if they can hear your music. If they can, then you’re actually doing more harm to your hearing than good. Instead, invest in noise-canceling headphones. They’ll let you hear the music at a reasonable volume and filter the noise at the same time.
Lab Safety Tip #4: Don’t smoke.
While not technically a lab safety tip, it is important. Smoking doesn’t just damage your lungs. In the same way that smoke makes it harder for the cells in your lungs to work, it actually suffocates the other cells in your body, too. This includes the very sensitive cells in your ears. Smoking also makes blood sugar levels more difficult to regulate, so if you do smoke, get your blood sugar checked regularly. Otherwise, your blood sugar imbalance could further damage your hearing.
Lab Safety Tip #5: Give your ears time to recover.
Hearing specialists say your ears need at least 16 hours to recover from a two-hour exposure to damaging noise levels. So proper lab safety means staying away from noise when you’re not on the clock. Give your ears the time they need to recuperate, otherwise you may risk permanent hearing loss.
Lab Safety Tip #6: Get the right lab furniture for added lab safety.
If you work in a mass spectrometry research lab, using IonBench dedicated lab furniture is an effective, efficient way to reduce vacuum pump noise. The specially designed lab bench includes an enclosed cabinet for vacuum pumps, reducing noise levels by 15 dBA, or 75%. This way, you can avoid the inconvenience of wearing earplugs, plus you’re allowed to guiltlessly save your hearing for more pleasurable pursuits — like the occasional concert.
To learn more about how our lab benches can significantly improve the safety and efficiency of your lab, contact us today.