Each year, about 2 million workplace injuries are documented. Typically, we think of a hand caught in a piece of machinery or a flying projectile when we consider work-related injuries.
But the most common workplace injury is a lot more pernicious and often goes unreported. It sneaks up on people extremely gradually over several years. The injury goes undetected until the symptoms become impossible to dismiss. Excuses are a normal reaction. “It will go away” or “I’m just getting older. This response is common.
And it’s unusual for people to even realize that their workplace is the cause of this injury.
The insidious injury is damaged hearing. There are some essential steps you should take if you detect any of the numerous warning signs.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Your hearing can be permanently damaged with regular exposure to as little as 85 decibels (dB) over a long period. For reference, a vacuum cleaner runs at around 75 decibels dB. A lawnmower produces 85 dB. A chainsaw or leaf blower creates over 100 dB. And the volume of a gunshot comes in at 140 dB.
How noisy is your workplace? Is the most common workplace injury an issue for you? If you’re regularly exposed to noise as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not constant, your hearing is likely to become damaged over time.
Hearing Injury Signs
If you work in a noisy environment, there’s no doubt you’re harming your hearing.
What follows is are early warning signs that you’re experiencing hearing loss:
- Conversations sound muffled.
- Your family and friends tell you your TV, radio, or computer tablet volume is too loud.
- You often ask people to repeat themselves.
- You tend to disengage when people are talking.
- Loud sounds cause pain in your ears.
- When you talk with people you always think they are mumbling
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
- You hear ringing, whistling, or hissing even when it’s quiet.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background noise.
How is Hearing Damage Being Dealt With by Employers?
Businesses and organizations are working with the latest technology to lessen workplace noise in excessively loud settings. Workplace noise will be decreased as new recommendations are being put in place by governments to protect workers.
As more employees become aware of the recurring damage they have suffered due to workplace noise, they are speaking out. With time, their voices will bring about further change.
Preventing Further Damage
Protecting your ears before they are damaged is the smartest plan if you work in a loud environment. Using protective headphones or earplugs on the job will help reduce potential damage.
If you suspect your hearing has been injured by a noisy workplace, make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as you can. When you ascertain the level of your hearing loss, you will find out how to counter further damage going forward. We can help you formulate strategies to protect against additional hearing loss and address the damage you’ve already experienced.