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Workplace Hearing Damage: Sources, Risks, and Solutions

Occupational hearing loss is a serious problem & concern for those working in various industries across the globe. As technology has progressed, more and more people have moved into high-noise occupations, surrounded by loud activity and machinery that could damage unprotected ears over time.

Losing the ability to hear can be a significant detriment to one’s life, and in most cases the damage is irreversible. Hearing is a vital sense that provides you the situational awareness to communicate proficiently, detect dangers, and live comfortably. Without these advantages, a person’s daily experience is severely limited. Being unable to have proper conversations with others or hear surrounding noises often leads one to become isolated, which can result in depression.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has declared noise-induced hearing loss as the most common workplace injury in the United States, estimates that over 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous sound levels annually. Noise is considered harmful to the human ear when it reaches over 85 decibels (dB), comparable to a person raising their voice to you from an arm’s length away.

 

How do I know whether I'm at risk of hearing loss?

Today, humans work side-by-side with innovative machines to greatly enhance our communication, production, transportation, and military capabilities. These technologies benefit every industrial sector of the economy, but they tend to be quite noisy and often pose a risk to the human ear. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has declared that noise-induced hearing loss is the most common workplace injury in the US, affecting over 22 million workers annually. They have determined that noise levels become hazardous when exceeding 85 decibels (dB), and the general rule of thumb is if talking to someone an arm’s length away requires raising your voice, then the surrounding noise may be harmful. The table to the right depicts levels of noise produced by various objects.


Hearing Decibels Chart

Industries posing the highest risk to hearing

Military – Unsurprisingly, operating around gunfire, explosions, and aircraft often inflicts lasting auditory damage on returning veterans. Hearing protection is required in combat situations to protect against hearing loss, as is reliable radio communications to co-ordinate with your unit.

Firefighters – Firefighters are consistently exposed to hazardous noises such as the sirens on firetrucks which are over 120 dB. Moreover, the job requires seamless communication in order to save lives and safeguard against needless injuries. Hearing protection is essential in these situations, and communication capabilities greatly enhance job effectiveness.

Construction – Construction sites are full of loud tools and machinery that operate up to around 110 dB. Since this industry makes up a large portion of the economy, construction workers are one of the highest demographics at risk of hearing loss in the workplace.

Airport Personnel – Working flight operations involves exposure to high levels of noise from aircraft engines, takeoff preparations, & aircraft braking. Jet engines are the largest source of the hazardous sound by far, with levels up to 140 dB. These environments are a constant source of harmful noise, making hearing protection a necessary safety measure.

 

3M hearing solutions by First Source Wireless

At First Source Wireless, we strive to meet the demands of every level of industry with the most reliable and effective hearing protection & communications solutions on the market today. Whether your needs require no comms, single comms, or dual comms, look no further than First Source Wireless to provide you the highest quality communications products at an unbeatable price. This article will be featuring our 3M solutions, a brand that has transformed the hearing protection and communications industries with constant innovation and proven reliability.

 

Military Solutions

No Comm – 3M Peltor COMTAC III Hearing Defender MT17H682FB-09 CY

  • Environmental Listening ("talk-through") allows for face to face verbal conversation and increased situational awareness
  • Provides protection for hazardous steady-state and impulse noise (Meets DA-PAM 40-501 Army Hearing Conservation Program 2015)
  • Tested in accordance with MIL STD 461E, Department of Defense Interface Standard, Requirements for the Control of Electromagnetic Interference Characteristics of Subsystems and Equipment.
  • 500 hours of battery life with 2 AAA batteries
  • External Communications and Environmental Listening are battery independent for Rx/Tx fail-safe.

Hearing Defender 3M

No Comm – 3M Peltor Tactical Earplug TEP-200

  • Allow audio signals to be received wirelessly from a neck loop accessory (not included)
  • Helps provide hearing protection
  • Environmental microphones for level-dependent hearing protection and situational awareness
  • Rechargeable earpieces via Micro USB or 3 AAA batteries

Single Comm – 3M COMTAC VI NIB Single Comm (Headband and Backband Configurations)

 

  • Noise Cancelling IP68 Speech Microphone for communication in noise
  • Omni Directional Environmental Microphones for level-dependent situational awareness
  • NIB (Natural Interaction Behavior) for peer to peer headset communication
  • Electronic hearing protection to protect from impulse & steady-state noise
  • Rugged design for trusted durability
  • MAP (Mission Audio Profile) to select audibility settings based on anticipated noise exposure.

 

 

Single Comm 3M

 

Dual Comm – 3M Peltor COMTAC ACH Communication Headset MT17H682FB-19 CYH

  • Level dependent surround sound for “talk-thru”
  • External comms and “talk-thru” are independent
  • Ambidextrous noise-canceling boom mic
  • Meets MIL-STD-461E & MIL-STD-810F
  • Buy American, TAA, & Berry Amendment Compliant
  • Fielded by U.S. Army PEO Soldier & U.S. SOCOM

duel comm headset 3M

Construction Solutions

No Comm – 3M Peltor HT Series Listen-Only Headset Headband HTM79A/ Neckband HTM79B

  • Versatile, listen-only headset for use in high-noise areas with a 2.5mm mono plug that can be connected to speaker microphones, VHF/UHF radios, or personal entertainment devices
  • Adjustable headband for a comfortable and secure fit
  • Foam and liquid-filled cushions provide lasting comfort for long wear times
  • Flexible, insulated connection cords made from durable polyurethane

Listen Only Headset 3M

 

Two-way Comms – 3M Peltor WS LiteCom Pro III Headset – Headband MT73H7A4D10-NA

  • Built-in programmable two-way communication radio allows for clear, hands-free communication in high levels of noise without cumbersome cables or cords
  • The headset can be programmed to use up to 70 unique two-way radio channels using analog and/or DMR digital modulation
  • Simultaneous, seamless connection to multiple external devices using Bluetooth technology

Litecom pro III

Two-way Comms – 3M Peltor WS 100 Bluetooth Headset MT16H21P3EWS5UM580

  • Works with 2-way radios & cell phones with wireless Bluetooth capability
  • Hardhat mounting clips – hat not included
  • Amplifies lower-level sounds like voices while attenuating higher level workplace sounds
  • Includes noise-canceling microphone
  • Uses 2 AAA batteries with 12-80 hours of battery life depending on usage

3M Blutooth Headset

 

 

Firefighter Solutions

Two-way Comms – 3M Peltor LiteCom Pro II Headset MT7H7B4010-NA-50/ Headband

  • Ghost voice menu prompts for easy mode selections
  • Up to 30 programmable channels in the 403-470 MHz band
  • 22 pre-programmed FRS/GMRS channels, 8 pre-programmed BRS channels & 121 sub-channel settings (CTCSS and DCS)
  • Push-to-talk (PTT) or hands-free Voice Activated (VOX) transmit functions
  • Rechargeable lithium-ion battery included
  • FCC Narrowband mandate compliant

Litecom Pro 2

Airport Personnel Solutions

3M Peltor WS ProTac XP Ground Mechanic MT15H7AWS5-01 GB Headband, Hi-Viz

  • DSP (Digital Noise Reduction)
  • Supports Bluetooth A2DP profile for streaming high-quality stereo sound
  • VOX (Voice Operated Transmit)
  • Headset and Adapter can be 10m apart before losing contact
  • Dynamic microphone with effective noise compensation for clear and reliable communication
  • Quick positioning integrated boom mic for easy handling

3M Peltor WS ProTac

 

3M Peltor WS LiteCom PRO III Headset – Headband MT73H7A4D10-NA

  • Built-in programmable two-way communication radio allows for clear, hands-free communication in high levels of noise without cumbersome cables or cords
  • The headset can be programmed to use up to 70 unique two-way radio channels using analog and/or DMR digital modulation
  • Simultaneous, seamless connection to multiple external devices using Bluetooth technology

LiteCom Pro III Headset

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