Working with power tools? You need hearing protection.

Photo credit: Bidvine

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Home repair and improvement expert Bob Vila–you may remember him from the PBS show, “This Old House”–recently posted this article about using hearing protection when using power tools. I’m glad to see a home improvement expert finally mentioning hearing protection, not just eye protection.

If I were doing a PBS show, it might be called “This Old Home Repairman.” I do more home repair than home improvement, and I’m certainly not in Bob Vila’s league, but I never used hearing protection until I became a noise activist in 2014. I would accept momentary discomfort when using a circular saw or even from pounding in one nail, not understanding that there is no such thing as temporary auditory damage. Any auditory symptoms after loud noise exposure indicate that permanent auditory damage has occurred.

After I learned how bad noise is for auditory health, if I’m using any tool that makes more noise than a screwdriver or pair of pliers, I insert earplugs or put on my earmuff hearing protectors.

When I’ve said that to other DIY enthusiasts, they laugh and say, “but using a screwdriver or pliers doesn’t make any noise?”

I reply, “That’s exactly my point. If you’re using a tool that does make noise–starting with a hammer, but certainly any power tool–you need to use hearing protection. You wouldn’t use a grinder or hammer drill without using eye protection. And you shouldn’t use them without using hearing protection either.”

Because if you are using a tool that sounds loud, it’s too loud, and your auditory health is at risk.

Be safe. Protect your ears, just like you protect your eyes, when using tools, and your hearing can last you a lifetime.

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