Fraser-Cascade School Board votes to invest in protecting the future of its students’ hearing

Decibel monitors to be installed in secondary schools’ machine shops as a visual guide

Education shouldn’t come at the cost of hearing loss, which is why the Fraser-Cascade School Board (SD 78) is investing in the protection of its sudents’ ears.

At their meeting on Tuesday, Mar. 5, the Board passed a motion that would allow for the purchase and installation of digital decibel meters in the metal shops throughout the district.

“We went on a tour of all the schools and all the rooms, and when we went into the workshop, I noticed it was quite loud and … some of the students were not using ear muffs,” said Trustee Tom Hendrickson, who brought forward the motion.

“Our school district has safety plugs and ear muffs for all students and teachers, but sometimes people take things for granted,” continued Hendrickson. “So what the Board has come up with is decibel meters (as) a visual guide.”

An example of the monitors to be installed in School District 78’s secondary schools. (Aeromic Microphones Australia Pty Ltd)

Based on the international go, prepare, stop colours, the meters light up the green if ear protection isn’t needed , yellow if protection is suggested, and red if protection is a must.

The decibel limit “accepted by Workers Comp is 80 to 85,” Hendrickson explained. “Vacuuming at home is 90, (which means) if you vacuumed all day, you’d have to wear earplugs or you’d gradually lose your hearing.”

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is caused by overexposure to loud sounds. The inner ear hairs that facilitate the travel of sound are like blades of grass on a field, said Hendrickson during the meeting. If you walk on them once or twice, they’ll be pushed down but will come back. But if you walk on them everyday, eventually they won’t bounce back.

“Hearing loss doesn’t happen overnight, it takes years to lose your hearing,” said Hendrickson. “So it’s our responsibility to ensure the children have all the protection that’s needed because young ears can really be affected by noise and noise pollution.

“By putting in these decibel meters, (the students) can actually see a visual, (which) will only be a positive for our students. It’s all about being safe. We’re not trying to micromanage, but it’s an aid to help the instructors protect the students.

“So when the children see those lights flashing, they’ll know they need to put on their hearing protection” even if the teacher isn’t there to tell them.

Currently, it’s just the secondary school shops that are going to have the sound monitors installed, but Hendrickson says placement “could evolve further” into the schools.

“Our intent was to put one in (each of) the metal shops in the district as a start,” said Doug Templeton, SD 78’s director of facilities. “Three in total (are) to be installed as soon as they arrive, (which) we would estimate to be right after spring break.”


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