Each year, roughly 2 million workplace injuries are documented. Usually, we think about a hand caught in a piece of machinery or a flying projectile when we consider work-related injuries.
But the most common workplace injury is far more pernicious and often goes unreported. It sneaks up on people very slowly over the course of several years. The injury goes unnoticed until the effects become impossible to dismiss. Excuses are a typical reaction. “It will go away” or “I’m just getting older. This isn’t unusual.
And it’s unusual for people to even recognize that their workplace is responsible for this injury.
The insidious injury is damaged hearing. There are some significant steps you should take if you notice any of the numerous warning signs.
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. Seventy-five dB, for example, is the average volume of a vacuum cleaner. A lawnmower generates 85 dB. A chainsaw or leaf blower generates more than 100 dB. A gunshot is around 140 dB.
Are you at risk when in your work environment? 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.
Symptoms of Hearing Injury
If you work in a noisy environment, there’s no question you’re harming your hearing.
Your experiencing hearing loss if you notice any of the following signs:
- Conversations sound muffled.
- You regularly ask people to repeat what they said.
- You hear ringing, hissing, or whistling even when it’s quiet.
- When people speak, you tend withdraw.
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
- You think people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
- You feel pain when you hear loud noises.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- People are always complaining about the loud volume of your media devices.
What Are Employers Doing to Lessen Hearing Damage?
Businesses and organizations are utilizing the most recent technology to decrease workplace noise in overly loud settings. Government agencies are working to update recommendations that will minimize workplace noise and protect employees.
As more employees become aware of the chronic damage they have endured as a result of workplace noise, they are coming forward. With time, their voices will lead to further change.
Preventing Additional Damage
Protecting your ears before they become damaged is the smartest plan if you work in a loud environment. Using protective headphones or earplugs on the job will help minimize potential damage.
Make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as possible if you suspect a noisy workplace has caused damage to your hearing. When you identify the level of your hearing loss, you will learn how to counter further damage going forward. We can help you formulate strategies to avoid additional hearing loss and manage the damage you’ve already experienced.