Approximately two million workplace injuries are reported each year. 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 frequently unnoticed. Over several years, it will sneak up gradually on people. The majority of people don’t even detect it’s occurring until it becomes significant. People often make excuses. “It’s only temporary” or “I’m just getting older. This response is common.
Many people don’t even realize it was related to their workplace environment.
The insidious injury is damaged hearing. There are a number of warning signs you should recognize, and there are significant steps you need to take if you suspect the damage is already done.
Exactly When Does The Volume Become “Too Loud”?
Your hearing can be permanently damaged with sustained exposure to as little as 85 decibels (dB) over a long period. For reference, a vacuum runs at about 75 decibels dB. A lawnmower delivers 85 dB. A chainsaw or leaf blower produces over 100 dB. And the volume of a gunshot logs in at 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 constant, your hearing is likely to become damaged over time.
Signs of Hearing Injury
If you work in a noisy environment, there’s no question you’re damaging your hearing.
The following is are early warning signs that you’re dealing with hearing loss:
- You suspect people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
- You feel pain when you hear loud noises.
- You tend to disengage when others are talking.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
- You hear ringing, whistling, or hissing even when it’s quiet.
- Your family and friends tell you your television, radio, or computer tablet volume is too loud.
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves when they talk.
- Conversations sound muffled.
What Are Employers Doing to Decrease Hearing Damage?
In settings that are very loud, technology is being put to use by organizations and businesses, to reduce workplace noise. Government agencies are working to update guidelines that will reduce workplace noise and protect employees.
Employees are coming forward as they become mindful of the chronic damage that workplace noise is causing. In time, their voices will lead to further change.
Preventing Additional Damage
Protecting your ears before they become damaged is the best plan if you work in a loud environment. Potential damage will be decreased by wearing protective earmuffs or earplugs.
If you think your hearing has been injured by a noisy workplace, schedule a hearing test as soon as possible. When you identify the extent of your hearing loss, you will learn how to avoid further damage going forward. We address any hearing damage you’re already experiencing and develop strategies to help you counter any additional damage.