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Promoting Hearing Protection

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

In shop classes safety glasses are a ubiquitous item, everyone wears they if anyone is doing any type of dangerous work or when a powered device is running. As shop teachers we teach out students the necessity of eye protection, because eyes can be easily damaged and can’t be repaired as easily as injuries to other parts of the body. However and often over looked and just as needed type of protection is hearing protection. In many shops both professional and education hearing protection is an under rated safety practice with many practicing hearing safety only in specific situations. It is the repeated exposure to decibel (db) levels and certain noise frequencies that can damage hearing in the both the short term and long term. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that roughly 15,000 cases each year of hearing related injuries are reported in the skilled trades. These numbers do not include small shops and classroom shops or those cases that are unreported, it is likely that this number of 15,000 cases could be double or triple the reported number of cases.

As teachers of shop or lab based classes we have the responsibility to promote sound and solid safety practices to our students who are novices in the areas that we are working in. Most of us would easily promote wearing eye protection in any shop environment due to how we learned and how many eye injuries there are across the US. We need to be promoting hearing protection in the same way and with the same intensity. While many do work in wood, metal and auto shops without hearing protection add seem to not notice a problem we are adults and professionals in what we do. We have the capability and experience to make a judgement call on our own. Our students have neither of these abilities, they do not have experience in shop environments due to their age nor do they have the judgment making skills solidified yet to appropriately make these decisions. I think that in any shop environment eye and ear protection should not be an optional but required practice in educational settings. This teachers our novice students the best practices of shop and job site safety while protecting them a long term damage that is based on creep-effect through repeated low-level exposure.

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