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Work-related hearing loss is extremely common

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2022 | Workers' Compensation

Hearing loss is extremely common in New Jersey and around the country. About one in 10 adults suffer from chronic hearing problems, and almost a quarter of them were injured by exposure to loud noises or toxic chemicals in the workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict regulations in place to prevent hearing loss, which is almost always permanent and often gets worse as time passes. Hearing loss has also been linked with heart problems and elevated blood pressure, and the feeling of isolation it creates can lead to depression.

Millions of workers at risk

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 22 million American workers are exposed to dangerously loud noises each year. OSHA considers noises above 85 decibels to be dangerously loud. A further 10 million workers are exposed to chemicals, solvents, heavy metals or asphyxiants that can damage hearing. When tests are conducted on workers who are exposed to loud noises on a regular basis, about one in five of them is diagnosed with a hearing issue of some kind.

Preventing hearing loss

Almost all hearing-related workers’ compensation claims could be prevented by adequate ear protection. Headphones should be worn or ear plugs inserted in situations where voices must be raised to speak to somebody three feet away, and workers must understand that failing to take precautions noisy environments can be extremely dangerous. Employers can do their part by installing monitoring equipment that alerts workers when noise reaches dangerous levels, and they should also place warning signs in areas where hearing protection is required at all times.

Training is crucial

Hearing issues are particularly challenging for workplace safety experts because the damage is often done gradually in environments where workers feel relatively safe. Safety training is a crucial step to prevent these injuries as workers will almost certainly take basic steps to protect themselves if they know about and appreciate the seriousness of the danger. A person who walks onto a construction site without a hard hat will be stopped in a matter of seconds. Walking through a noisy workplace without hearing protection should be just as difficult.