Roughly two million workplace injuries are reported each year. Typically, we think about 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 common and frequently unnoticed. It sneaks up on people extremely slowly over the course of several years. Most individuals don’t even recognize it’s occurring until it becomes significant. Excuses are a normal reaction. “It’s just part of aging” or “It’s a short-term issue”. This isn’t unusual.
Many people don’t even recognize it was caused by their workplace environment.
Hearing damage is this insidious injury. There are some significant steps you should take if you recognize any of the numerous warning signs.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Your hearing can be permanently damaged with prolonged exposure to as little as 85 decibels (dB) over a long period. Seventy-five dB, for instance, is the average volume of a vacuum cleaner. A lawnmower delivers 85 dB. If you’re exposed to a chainsaw or leaf blower you’re experiencing 100 dB. A gunshot is around 140 dB.
How loud is your workplace? Is the most common workplace injury an issue for you? If you’re frequently exposed to something as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous, your hearing can become damaged over time.
Symptoms of Hearing Damage
If you work in a loud environment, there’s no question you’re damaging your hearing.
What follows is are early warning signs that you’re experiencing hearing loss:
- When you talk with people you always think they are mumbling
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for instance.
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves when they speak.
- You feel pain when you hear loud noises.
- You tend to disengage when people are talking.
- You’re hearing noises in your ears like ringing, whistling, or hissing.
- People are always complaining about the high volume of your media devices.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- Conversations sound muffled.
How is Hearing Damage Being Dealt With by Employers?
In environments that are very loud, technology is being used by businesses or organizations to reduce workplace noise. Workplace noise will be decreased as new recommendations are being put in place by governments to safeguard workers.
As more employees become aware of the recurring damage they have suffered due to workplace noise, they are coming forward. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Additional Damage
If you work in a noisy environment, the smartest thing you can do is safeguard your ears before any damage takes place. Wearing protective earmuffs or earplugs while at work will help decrease potential damage.
If you suspect your hearing has been damaged by a noisy workplace, make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as you can. When you ascertain the level of your hearing loss, you will learn how to counter further damage going forward. We address any hearing damage you already have and develop strategies to help you counter any additional damage.