About two million workplace injuries are reported each year. When you think about on-the-job injuries, you might think of flying objects or a hand caught in a piece of machinery at a factory.
But there is a far more pernicious on-the-job injury that is even more prevalent and frequently unnoticed. It sneaks up on people very slowly over several years. The injury goes unnoticed until the effects become impossible to disregard. People often make excuses. “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.
Damaged hearing is this insidious injury. There are some essential 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 prolonged exposure to as little as 85 decibels (dB) over a long period. For reference, a vacuum runs at about 75 decibels dB. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. A chainsaw or leaf blower produces 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 prevalent workplace injury? Over time, your hearing can be damaged if you’re regularly exposed to sound as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not constant.
Symptoms of Hearing Damage
If you work in a loud environment, there’s no doubt you’re damaging your hearing.
Your experiencing hearing loss if you notice any of the following signs:
- Conversations sound muffled.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- You regularly ask people to repeat themselves when they talk.
- Loud noises cause pain in your ears.
- You’re hearing sounds in your ears like ringing, hissing, or whistling.
- You tend to disengage when people are talking.
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for instance.
- Your friends and family tell you your television, radio, or computer tablet volume is too high.
- When you speak with people you always think they are mumbling
How is Hearing Damage Being Addressed by Employers?
In settings that are very loud, technology is being used by businesses or organizations to reduce workplace noise. Government agencies are working to modify recommendations that will minimize workplace noise and protect employees.
Employees are coming forward as they become aware of the chronic damage that workplace noise is causing. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Further Damage
Safeguarding your ears before they are damaged is the smartest plan if you work in a loud setting. Potential damage will be minimized by using protective earmuffs or earplugs.
If you suspect your hearing has been injured by a noisy workplace, schedule a hearing test as soon as possible. You will learn how to avoid additional damage when you find out how much hearing damage you’re dealing with. We can help you develop strategies to avoid further hearing loss and manage the damage you’ve already experienced.