Every year, about 2 million workplace injuries are documented. Typically, we think of a hand caught in a piece of machinery or a flying projectile when we consider work-related injuries.
But there is a much more pernicious on-the-job injury that is even more prevalent and often unnoticed. Over several years, it will sneak up gradually on people. The injury goes unnoticed until the symptoms become impossible to ignore. People often make excuses. “It’s just part of the aging process” or “It’s not a permanent problem”. This response is normal.
Many individuals don’t even realize it was caused by their workplace environment.
Damaged hearing is this insidious injury. There are some significant steps you should take if you detect any of the numerous warning signs.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Your hearing can be irreversibly damaged with regular exposure to as little as 85 decibels (dB) over a long period. For reference, a vacuum cleaner runs at about 75 decibels dB. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. A leaf blower or chainsaw creates over 100 dB. A gunshot is about 140 dB.
How noisy is your workplace? Are you being exposed to the most common workplace injury? If you’re regularly exposed to something as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous, your hearing can become damaged over time.
Signs of Hearing Damage
If you work in a loud environment, there’s no question you’re harming your hearing.
Your experiencing hearing loss if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
- When you talk with people you constantly believe they are mumbling
- You tend to disengage when others are talking.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background noise.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- Your family and friends tell you your TV, radio, or computer tablet volume is too loud.
- You frequently ask people to repeat what they said.
- You experience pain when you hear loud sounds.
- You’re hearing noises in your ears like ringing, hissing, or whistling.
How is Hearing Damage Being Dealt With by Employers?
In settings that are very loud, technology is being put to use by organizations and businesses, to reduce workplace noise. Workplace noise will be lessened as new guidelines are being put in place by governments to protect workers.
As more employees become aware of the chronic damage they have endured due to workplace noise, they are coming forward. With time, their voices will result in further change.
Preventing Further Damage
If you work in a loud environment, the best thing you can do is protect your ears before any damage occurs. Potential damage will be decreased by using protective earplugs or earmuffs.
Schedule an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as possible if you believe a noisy workplace has caused damage to your hearing. When you ascertain the degree of your hearing loss, you will find out how to prevent further damage going forward. We can help you develop strategies to protect against additional hearing loss and deal with the damage you’ve already experienced.