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Hearing loss: Your work environment can lead to deafness

Hearing loss affects many people in the workplace. Approximately 60 percent of those who struggle with hearing loss are part of the American workforce, which means that they may struggle to complete work or may need additional help to prevent further damage to their hearing.

The good thing about hearing loss in the workplace is that it is usually preventable. When addressed correctly, hearing-loss education can reduce the risk of hearing loss, improve efficiency and improve communication.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that approximately 22 million Americans are faced with hazardous noise levels while at work. As a result, hearing loss is the most common injury due to the workplace environment. Even worse, around $242 million is spent every year on workers' compensation claims for those who have hearing loss disabilities.

My workplace is quiet: Am I safe?

Not necessarily, since even short exposure to loud noise levels can hurt your hearing. Have you ever connected to a computer with headphones and had the volume up too loud? Is there loud equipment that is away from your work area but that you pass on your way in? These and other instances where loud noise levels could be present can still impact you.

What should you do if you believe you developed hearing loss due to your workplace environment?

Your employer should help you file a workers' compensation claim if you believe that you've suffered hearing loss as a result of your job. Your employer should also be willing to make simple changes in the workplace to help make your job easier despite having trouble with your hearing.

A study by the Better Hearing Institute states that people who work with unaided hearing loss earn approximately $20,000 less, on average, than others who wore hearing aids to help with hearing loss. With this in mind, if you have suffered hearing loss in the workplace, getting a medical exam is a must. Once you have the exam completed, you can be fitted for hearing aids. Additionally, if your employer is informed that there is a danger to employees' hearing, they should take steps to remove the hazard or reduce the likelihood of it affecting others.

Hearing loss is a real problem, so the sooner you get help, the better. An early diagnosis can help you avoid further damage to your hearing and protect your right to work in a safe environment.

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