About two million workplace injuries are documented every year. Usually, we think of 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 much more insidious and commonly goes unreported. It sneaks up on people extremely slowly over the course of several years. Most individuals don’t even notice it’s occurring until it becomes significant. People typically make excuses. “It’s only temporary” or “I’m just getting older. This is normal.
And it’s unusual for people to even recognize that their workplace is to blame for this injury.
Hearing damage is this insidious injury. There are numerous warning signs you should identify, and there are significant steps you need to take if you think the damage is already done.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Regular exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels (dB) can result in long-term damage to your hearing. For reference, a vacuum cleaner runs at about 75 decibels dB. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. If you’re exposed to a chainsaw or leaf blower you’re experiencing 100 dB. A gunshot is around 140 dB.
Are you at risk when you’re at work? Is the most common workplace injury a problem for you? Over time, your hearing can be damaged if you’re regularly exposed to sound as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous.
Hearing Injury Signs
If you work in a loud environment, there’s no question you’re harming your hearing.
Your experiencing hearing loss if you notice any of the following signs:
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- People are always complaining about the loud volume of your media devices.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- You regularly ask people to repeat what they said.
- You suspect people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
- When people speak, you tend withdraw.
- You experience pain when you hear loud sounds.
- You hear ringing, hissing, or whistling even when it’s quiet.
How is Hearing Damage Being Addressed by Employers?
In environments that are very loud, technology is being put to use by businesses or organizations to reduce workplace noise. Government agencies are endeavoring to modify guidelines that will decrease workplace noise and protect employees.
As more employees become aware of the recurring damage they have endured as a consequence of workplace noise, they are coming forward. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Additional Damage
If you work in a loud environment, the smartest thing you can do is safeguard your ears before any damage is done. Using protective earmuffs or earplugs on the job will help decrease potential damage.
If you believe your hearing has been damaged by a noisy workplace, make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as you can. You will discover how to prevent added damage when you find out how much hearing damage you have. We address any hearing damage you already have and develop strategies to help you counter any further damage.