Invisible Danger: The Importance of Prevention

Sylvain Poulin

As part of Health and Safety Week, we wanted to share some testimonials that remind us that health is priceless, and that construction sites remain environments where we must redouble our vigilance to protect ourselves and our colleagues.  

Sylvain Poulin is a superintendent who has been with Pomerleau for 23 years. His job is to ensure work is conducted seamlessly and coordinate the various trades involved in our construction projects. Sylvain is a man of action, present in the field to solve challenges and find solutions. But sometimes danger is invisible, yet very present.  

Sylvain hasn't been the victim of a serious accident, but he has been affected by work on-site. It’s unnoticeable to those around him, but Sylvain now has reduced hearing and suffers from tinnitus. This condition is irreversible, and his hearing will most likely continue to deteriorate over the years. The cause? Prolonged unprotected exposure to noise. On a construction site, sources of noise that can damage hearing are omnipresent. 

The challenge is that it's not something you can see. The consequences are not immediate. For me, it started after 20 years in the industry. The first few nights, I couldn't sleep because all I could hear was a continuous high-pitched noise.

Since then, Sylvain has been sharing his story on the worksites where he intends to prevent it from happening again. He believes that protective shells should also be necessary for worksites, just like helmets, safety boots, and safety jackets are. Of course, it will continue to be necessary to raise awareness of the issue before it’s widely known, and before every worker becomes aware of the risk and protects themselves adequately.  

Currently, on my site, all the workers have shells attached to their helmets. If you have your protection on your helmet, when you need it, you put it over your ears and when you're done, you take it off. You've just got the protection you needed for the time you needed it. We can protect a lot of workers with this kind of device and by explaining to them today the impact it could have tomorrow.