Hearing loss is a common work-related injury in New Jersey and across the US. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that hearing loss is the most common workplace injury in the country across all occupations.
Occupational hearing loss is an invisible problem
Many people don’t realize that hearing loss is such a big issue since it tends to happen gradually. Constant exposure to hazardous noise levels can take several years before it results in noticeable hearing loss. Each year, around 22 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to noise levels that are high enough to cause hearing damage.
Industries that are most affected
Workers in certain industries face more exposure to hazardous noise levels than others. The worst industries for occupational hearing loss include construction, mining and manufacturing.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, manufacturing is, by far, the worst industry for occupational hearing loss. More than 85% of workers’ compensation claims for hearing loss come from the manufacturing industry.
Preventing occupational hearing loss
The first thing employers can do to prevent occupational hearing loss is to try to cut down on hazardous noise. OSHA says that 85 decibels is the highest noise level that can be reasonably endured over an eight-hour shift. For every 5-decibel increase in the average noise level, a worker’s shift should be halved. In other words, if the average noise level in a workplace reaches 90 decibels, the work shift should only be four hours long.
Wearing hearing protection is another key safety measure that workers can take to stop occupational hearing loss. Hearing protection, like earplugs or earmuffs, should be worn anytime the volume goes over 85 decibels. Workers who are regularly exposed to loud noises should have their hearing checked once a year.
Compensation for occupational hearing loss
Many people just accept hearing loss as a part of growing old when, in reality, their hearing was damaged because of hazardous work conditions. If you suffer from hearing loss that may be work-related, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.