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Hearing loss in the workplace: The facts

Hearing loss can affect every part of your life. If you've noticed that your hearing is getting worse or that you're having a hard time hearing normally, you may be developing hearing loss due to any number of causes. If your work environment is particularly loud, then the exposure to loud noises that you face could be the reason for your hearing difficulties.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health states that workers shouldn't be exposed to noise levels over 85 decibels over eight continuous hours. It also believes that around 30 million U.S. workers are exposed to noise levels so high that they cause irreversible damage to their hearing.

How common is workplace hearing loss?

Around 24% of hearing loss recorded within the U.S. is related to workplace exposure, based on estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that over 20,000 workplace hearing loss cases happen each year. Not all are permanent, but many are.

Hearing loss is a major concern for employers and employees alike, and it should be taken seriously the moment you realize there is a change in your hearing. If your work environment is loud, then there are steps that should be taken to reduce the risk of hearing loss. Some possible tips include:

  • Taking regular breaks away from loud noises
  • Wearing ear plugs or hearing protection in the workplace
  • Reporting when an employer does not follow occupational regulations for safe sound levels

Hearing loss is something to take seriously. If you have started to notice that your hearing is diminishing, then you need to see a medical professional right away. You can inform your employer that you believe that you have suffered from hearing loss due to the noise levels on the job and seek a visit with a workers' compensation medical provider. You may also see your own doctor, in most cases, and report back to your employer if your doctor believes that your hearing loss is related to your work environment.

If you do have hearing loss linked to your workplace, workers' compensation should cover the expenses related to your care, such as obtaining medical equipment and getting a diagnosis. Your employer can also take steps to reduce the noise levels in the work environment or provide better protection to workers, so that there is a lower chance of others suffering from hearing loss as well.

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