When people consider the possible dangers in a workplace, few think of noise as potentially harmful. However, when it reaches certain levels, noise poses a risk of causing occupational hearing loss. Workers in varying industries, including airline ground maintenance, farming, construction and the military, may face this unseen danger.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hazardous noise exposure in the workplace affects approximately 22 million people every year. Therefore, it benefits workers in industries that have an increased risk of exposure to understand the potential danger.
Common causes of occupational hearing loss
Several factors contribute to causing occupational hearing loss. Exposure to ototoxic chemicals, including some pharmaceuticals, solvents, and metals and compounds, sometimes causes increased susceptibility to loud noise. Exposure to these types of substances alone also causes occupational hearing loss in some cases.
Noise may cause harmful damage at 85 decibels. For example, if a person must raise his or her voice to talk to a co-worker an arm’s length away, the noise level may have reached a hazardous level.
Treatment of work-related hearing loss
According to Medlineplus.gov, treatment of occupational hearing loss generally focuses on preventing further hearing loss and improving communication. To this end, workers may use ear protection to avoid loud noise exposure while working, as well as devices such as hearing aids or cochlear implants.
Like those who suffer broken bones or other such injuries in the workplace, employees who suffer occupational hearing loss may have entitlement to workers’ compensation. Therefore, they often find it helpful to follow their employers’ reporting guidelines and pursue their options for recovering the benefits they need and deserve.