Each year, approximately 2 million workplace injuries are reported. Usually, we think about a hand caught in a piece of machinery or a flying projectile when we consider work-related injuries.
But there is a much more insidious on-the-job injury that is even more common and frequently overlooked. It sneaks up on people really slowly over several years. The injury goes undetected until the symptoms become impossible to ignore. People often make excuses. “It’s just part of the aging process” or “It’s a temporary problem”. This response is normal.
And it’s unusual for people to even realize that their workplace is to blame for this injury.
The insidious injury is damaged hearing. There are a number of warning signs you should recognize, and there are important steps you need to take if you suspect the damage is already done.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Continual exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels (dB) can trigger long-term damage to your hearing. Seventy-five dB, for instance, is the average volume of a vacuum cleaner. A lawnmower delivers 85 dB. A leaf blower or chainsaw creates more than 100 dB. A gunshot is around 140 dB.
Are you at risk when you’re at work? Are you being exposed to the most prevalent workplace injury? If you’re frequently exposed to something as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous, your hearing can become damaged over time.
Hearing Damage Signs
If you work in a loud environment, there’s no doubt you’re harming your hearing.
The following is are early warning signs that you’re dealing with hearing loss:
- You think people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
- You feel pain when you hear loud sounds.
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves when they talk.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background noise.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
- You’re hearing sounds in your ears like ringing, hissing, or whistling.
- People are always complaining about the high volume of your media devices.
- When people speak, you tend disengage.
What Are Employers Doing to Lessen Hearing Damage?
Businesses and organizations are utilizing the latest technology to reduce workplace noise in excessively loud environments. Government agencies are working to modify guidelines that will minimize workplace noise and protect employees.
Employees are coming forward as they become mindful of the long-term damage that workplace noise is causing. With time, their voices will result in further change.
Preventing Additional Damage
Protecting your ears before they are damaged is the smartest plan if you work in a loud environment. Potential damage will be decreased by using protective earplugs or earmuffs.
Make an appointment for a hearing exam right away if you believe a noisy workplace has caused injury to your hearing. When you ascertain the extent of your hearing loss, you will find out how to avoid further damage going forward. We can help you develop strategies to prevent further hearing loss and manage the damage you’ve already experienced.