people exercising in a room together

Industrial-strength Sound Where Least Expected

Hearing Threats at the Gym 

What? 93, 95 decibels (dBs) with spikes of 100 dBs and higher as the instructor yelled almost non-stop into the microphone.  

During an industry training session, a gentleman shared that he confirmed his suspicions that his gym class was overly loud by taking some readings with a calibrated sound meter. He was shocked. People did not wear hearing protection when they were actually in an ear-danger zone. They probably trusted that they were safe.

Spending one hour in that environment by far overshot his daily sound dose and he had not even started to work at his job that also came with plenty of loud noise. 

For the general industry, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) mandates that Hearing Conservation measures involving ear protection and training be put in place at average sound levels of 85 decibels and more. And so, it turned out that this man’s hearing was safer at work than at the gym where he did not expect to be put at risk. 

Places of Worship as Danger Zones

I have relocated more than once into the hallway during over-the-top loud church services. Church bands are quite the rage lately. Every instrument is connected to an amplifier in spaces that are way too small for such a racket. And then, volunteers come around distributing earplugs to the congregation. Really! Is anybody thinking anymore? Just turn it down.

Why the Noise? Why Endanger Hearing… and Health?  

At the gym, super loud music might be thought of as a strategy for whipping people into working faster and harder. Two hours packed into one!? 

Yet, the body’s response to noise is to pump out more stress hormones, such as adrenaline. How much more cardiovascular stress is healthy and safe? Just wondering. 

Meanwhile, the ears are being subjected to toxic sound levels that endanger hearing. Muffled hearing and ringing in the ears after such sessions indicate that the fitness experts must dial down on the sound levels OR that those in the class must protect their hearing. After all, hearing and health and quality of life are intimately connected.

Audio volunteers at places of worship may believe that turning the volume dials to the last notches makes the service more accessible to older people or to those who have already hearing loss. 

Actually, louder is not better. Remember, hearing sound is not the major issue for those with hearing loss. Understanding speech is. As it gets louder, reverberation and sound distortion in an already damaged hearing system makes it just about impossible to catch a single word. The unnecessary din can cause physical pain as it also endangers residual hearing. Some have shared in meetings that overpowering noise keeps them out of church. 

Places of worship are places of prayer and reflection. Rather than cranking up the volume, learn about how assistive technology such as FM, IR (infra-red) systems and hearing loops and neck loops can help those with hearing loss. Learn how and when to use them correctly so that nobody feels excluded by overly boisterous decibel levels. 

In the End

Excessively loud sound damages hearing permanently. It causes accelerated and premature aging of the ears ─and Mother Nature does not care where the noise comes from. It is true that the world is getting louder by the day. Ears come under attack in many places but people should be able to trust that they are safe in places where they go to tend to their physical and spiritual health and well-being.  


For Safety presentations or Hearing and Health presentations, please email [email protected]. See my website 

To learn about Ears and Hearing, see my book “What Did You Say? An Unexpected Journey into the World of Hearing Loss” – now in its second edition.