Do some of your workers scoff at the idea that work-related noise can permanently damage their hearing? Here’s a first-person account of how that can happen from the drummer for heavy-metal band Metallica.
Lars Ulrich says when he first started performing in rock bands 35 years ago, he didn’t wear any hearing protection.
Now the 46-year-old Metallica drummer wears earplugs when he plays. He suffers from tinnitus, the perception of sound where there is none.
Ulrich told CNN, at first, the ringing in his ears was barely noticeable, but over time it got worse.
Tinnitus is often described as high-pitch ringing, but it can also sound like buzzing, whistling, whooshing or clicking.
The most reported cause of tinnitus is excessive loud noise from machinery, lawn equipment, children’s toys or even MP3 players.
Here’s how tinnitus causes phantom noises: The ear is damaged and isn’t picking up a signal and sending it to the brain. The brain compensates and turns up the volume. The person hears static electrical activity in the brain that normally is dampened or suppressed.
Ulrich says he’s kept his tinnitus from becoming worse by using earplugs. However, the ringing in his ears will never completely go away.
He says he’s concerned about young people, those who listen to loud music frequently on MP3 players.
“Once your hearing is gone, it’s gone, and there’s no real remedy,” Ulrich said.