Hearing protection at work
Can noise-canceling hearing aids serve as my hearing protection at work?
Responding is John Marsh, COHC, CEO, Safety Rite Inc., Norcross, GA.
Simply stated, no. Hearing aids are assistive listening devices designed to provide amplification at certain frequencies to improve communication in optimal and less optimal conditions (for example, at restaurants, on car rides, in meetings, etc.).
Although hearing aids may reduce noise levels in certain background noise, the noise-canceling properties of a hearing aid were never designed to reduce noise levels found in industry.
Hearing aid users claim that with their hearing aids turned off, they cannot hear anything. Thus, it must be protecting their hearing. It should be noted that hearing is a sense, which means there’s perception. Just because you don’t experience a sensation – in this case, hear a sound – doesn’t mean there’s no sound present.
Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.