Every year, roughly 2 million workplace injuries are reported. Typically, we think of a hand caught in a piece of machinery or a flying projectile when we consider work-related injuries.
But there is a far more insidious on-the-job injury that is even more common and frequently unnoticed. It sneaks up on people very slowly over several years. The injury goes unnoticed until the symptoms become impossible to overlook. Excuses are a typical reaction. “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.
Hearing damage is this insidious injury. There are a number of warning signs you should recognize, and there are significant steps you need to take if you think the damage is already done.
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 around 75 decibels dB. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. A leaf blower or chainsaw produces more than 100 dB. A gunshot is around 140 dB.
Are you at risk when in your work environment? Is the most common workplace injury a problem for you? If you’re frequently exposed to noise as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not constant, your hearing can become damaged over time.
Hearing Injury Signs
You’re definitely damaging your hearing if you work in a loud environment without hearing protection.
Your experiencing hearing loss if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- You experience pain when you hear loud sounds.
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves when they talk.
- You tend to disengage when people are talking.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- Your friends and family tell you your television, radio, or computer tablet volume is too high.
- You’re hearing sounds in your ears like ringing, whistling, or hissing.
- consonants get confused – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for instance.
- You suspect people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
What Are Employers Doing to Decrease Hearing Damage?
Businesses and organizations are using the latest technology to lessen workplace noise in overly loud environments. Workplace noise will be decreased as new recommendations are being put in place by governments to protect workers.
As more employees become aware of the recurring damage they have suffered due to workplace noise, they are speaking out. Over time, their voices will result in further change.
Preventing Further Damage
If you work in a noisy environment, the best thing you can do is protect your ears before any damage is done. Wearing protective earmuffs or earplugs on the job will help reduce potential damage.
If you believe your hearing has been damaged by a noisy workplace, schedule a hearing test as soon as possible. When you ascertain the degree of your hearing loss, you will learn how to avoid further damage going forward. We address any hearing damage you already have and develop strategies to help you avoid any further damage.