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Posted on Friday, August 02, 2013

Hearing Loss in the Workplace

Man with goggles and ear protection is prepared for hearing loss in the workplace.

According to the Center for Disease Control, “30 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise on the job and an additional nine million are at risk for hearing loss from other agents such as solvents and metals.” Hearing loss in the workplace is the number one reported work related injury in the United States.

Inside the ear are small, delicate hairs that help conduct the noise that constitutes your hearing. Injury to these hair cells comes from exposure, sudden or prolonged, to loud noises. This can result in temporary and permanent hearing loss, unless hearing protection is used. There are many other ways that hearing can be damaged in the workplace.

  • Hearing loss at work can result both from harmful noise levels and from exposure to dangerous chemicals.
  • A man of twenty who works with and around noisy equipment was recently found to have the hearing of a man around fifty.
  • People with untreated hearing loss are generally paid less than those who have treated their hearing loss.
  • Untreated hearing loss can have long-term consequences for the brain and has been linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  • Untreated hearing loss can increase isolation and depression.
  • Loud equipment is one of the top ways workers can injure their hearing on the job.
  • The cost of hearing loss for the military, government, and individuals could run into the billions each year.
  • Not only is machinery in manufacturing dangerous, but also transportation equipment and tools of the trade that might not be obvious, like a hairdresser's hairdryer.
  • Hearing loss is the number one self-reported and one of the most common risk factors for American workers.
  • Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is 100% preventable, so it's important employers practice and workers demand safe hearing conditions within the workplace either by masking sounds from machines or by wearing properly fitted hearing protection. Employees can make a difference by talking to their employer about the costs of hearing loss and the long term impact on employees. They can also make a point to ask for hearing health coverage in their health benefits package. Most importantly, people at high risk of hearing loss from their workplace should have their hearing regularly tested. If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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