Each year, roughly 2 million workplace injuries are reported. 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 prevalent and frequently undetected. It sneaks up on people really slowly over several years. The majority of individuals don’t even notice it’s happening until it becomes severe. People often make excuses. “It’s just part of growing older” or “It’s not a permanent issue”. This response 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 some significant steps you should take if you detect any of the numerous warning signs.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Your hearing can be irreversibly 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. A lawnmower produces 85 dB. If you’re exposed to a leaf blower or a chainsaw you’re dealing with 100 dB. A gunshot is about 140 dB.
How noisy is your workplace? Are you being exposed to the most prevalent workplace injury? 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 continuous.
Symptoms of Hearing Injury
You’re definitely harming your hearing if you work in a loud environment without hearing protection.
Your experiencing hearing loss if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Your family and friends tell you your TV, radio, or computer tablet volume is too loud.
- You experience pain when you hear loud noises.
- You think people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background noise.
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves when they talk.
- You’re hearing sounds in your ears like ringing, hissing, or whistling.
- You tend to disengage when people are talking.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for instance.
How is Hearing Damage Being Dealt With by Employers?
In environments that are extremely loud, technology is being put to use by organizations and businesses, to reduce workplace noise. Workplace noise will be decreased as new guidelines are being put in place by governments to protect workers.
Employees are speaking out as they become mindful of the long-term damage that workplace noise is causing. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Further Damage
If you work in a noisy environment, the smartest thing you can do is protect your ears before any damage takes place. Using protective headphones or earplugs while at work will help reduce 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 determine the extent of your hearing loss, you will find out how to avoid further damage going forward. We address any hearing damage you already have and develop strategies to help you counter any additional damage.