Each year, about 2 million workplace injuries are documented. Typically, we think about a hand caught in a piece of machinery or a flying projectile when we consider work-related injuries.
But the most prevalent workplace injury is a lot more insidious and often goes unreported. Over the course of a few years, it will sneak up slowly on people. The injury goes unnoticed until the symptoms become impossible to overlook. Excuses are a typical reaction. “It will go away” or “I’m just getting older. This is normal.
And it’s unusual for people to even acknowledge that their workplace is responsible for this injury.
The insidious injury is damaged hearing. There are numerous warning signs you should recognize, and there are essential steps you need to take if you think the damage is already done.
How Loud is 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 cleaner runs at about 75 decibels dB. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. A leaf blower or chainsaw creates over 100 dB. And the volume of a gunshot logs in at 140 dB.
How loud is your workplace? Is the most common workplace injury a problem for you? Over time, your hearing is likely to be damaged if you are regularly exposed to sound as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not constant.
Hearing Damage Signs
If you work in a noisy environment, there’s no doubt you’re harming your hearing.
Your experiencing hearing loss if you notice any of the following signs:
- When people speak, you tend withdraw.
- You suspect people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
- Your family and friends tell you your television, radio, or computer tablet volume is too high.
- You often ask people to repeat themselves.
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for instance.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background noise.
- You feel pain when you hear loud noises.
- You’re hearing noises in your ears like ringing, whistling, or hissing.
- Conversations sound muffled.
What Are Employers Doing to Reduce Hearing Damage?
In settings that are really loud, technology is being used by businesses or organizations to reduce workplace noise. Workplace noise will be minimized as new recommendations are being put in place by governments to protect 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 Further Damage
If you work in a loud setting, the best thing you can do is safeguard your ears before any damage occurs. Wearing protective earmuffs or earplugs on the job will help minimize potential damage.
If you suspect your hearing has been damaged by a noisy workplace, schedule a hearing test as soon as possible. You will discover how to avoid further damage when you find out how much hearing damage you have. We address any hearing damage you already have and formulate strategies to help you counter any additional damage.