Having worked in the building and home improvement trade for over 25 years, I have worked in a fair few extremely dangerous environments for your eyes and ears. Taking preventative steps through proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is vitally important as it can ensure you maintain your quality of life.
Ears are extremely sensitive and can be damaged over a long period of time if exposed to loud noises. Unfortunately, most noise-related hearing loss is irreversible which makes taking good care of your hearing is especially important. Thankfully, advances in technology mean that hearing protection is more effective and comfortable than ever before.
Before issuing hearing protection, it is a good idea to identify the tasks where they need to be worn and ensure all staff receive adequate training. Sometimes, certain areas need to be designated zones where hearing protection must be worn at all times. Investing in good quality equipment is the best way to protect hearing and should keep noise levels down to below 85 dB at the ear which is a legal requirement. To put this into perspective, normal conversation is roughly 60 dB, a car horn is 110 dB and a gunshot is 140 dB.
There are various different types of protection that can be worn including large ear defenders and instant fit devices that can be custom-fit to the individual. These items are readily available and often offer good value-for-money so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank. It is important to test products thoroughly before issuing them to staff members to ensure that the protection is working effectively.
Studies have shown that one half of workers that wear ear defenders receive half or less of the protection they should. This is because their ear defenders are not worn correctly or continuously due to improper or uncomfortable fit. Ear plugs that are comfortable fit every time and are also easy to use; the result of this is that the user wears them, and that they do the job.
It might seem like a bit of a cliché but the old adage of ‘look after your eyes as you only get one pair’ is about as spot on as you’ll get. In my line of work, myself and my staff are forever engaged in tasks that pose a threat to our eyes, so I insist that we all wear the correct protective eye equipment wherever it is needed. It’s such a simple thing to get right and such a terrible thing to get wrong.
My advice would be to take a zero tolerance attitude. It’s not difficult to spot the types of task that are likely to either generate dust or throw out material in a dangerous way. It’s even easier to take steps to eliminate the risk.
Eye protection is now mandatory in certain scenarios thanks to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations but there are many other situations where you can identify a level of risk. The correct equipment is seen by some as an unnecessary expense but if you compare it to the time and money that can be lost on the other side of the equation, it’s a small price to pay.
While it seems a no-brainer, I can’t stress it enough – we must look after the health of our ears and eyes! If we don’t, we risk losing time, money and, most importantly, our quality of life!
Craig Phillips is the brand ambassador for leading Swedish workwear manufacturer Blåkläder.