Every year, about 2 million workplace injuries are documented. When you think of on-the-job injuries, you might think of flying projectiles or a hand caught in a piece of machinery at a factory.
But the most prevalent workplace injury is much more insidious and often goes unreported. It sneaks up on people extremely slowly over the course of several years. The injury goes undetected until the symptoms become impossible to disregard. People often make excuses. “It’s just part of growing older” or “It’s a temporary problem”. This isn’t unusual.
Many individuals don’t even recognize it was caused by their workplace environment.
Hearing damage is this insidious injury. There are several warning signs you should identify, and there are significant steps you need to take if you believe the damage is already done.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Your hearing can be irreversibly 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. A lawnmower generates 85 dB. If you’re exposed to a chainsaw or leaf blower you’re dealing with 100 dB. And the volume of a gunshot logs in at 140 dB.
Are you at risk when you’re at work? Are you being exposed to the most common workplace injury? If you’re frequently exposed to something as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous, your hearing can become damaged over time.
Symptoms of Hearing Injury
If you work in a noisy environment, there’s no doubt you’re damaging your hearing.
What follows are early warning signs that you’re dealing with hearing loss:
- consonants get confused – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
- When you talk with people you constantly think they are mumbling
- Conversations sound muffled.
- People are always complaining about the high volume of your media devices.
- You hear ringing, hissing, or whistling when it should be quiet.
- You tend to disengage when people are talking.
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves when they talk.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background noise.
- You feel pain when you hear loud sounds.
What Are Employers Doing to Decrease Hearing Damage?
In settings that are extremely loud, technology is being put to use by businesses or organizations to reduce workplace noise. Government agencies are working to modify recommendations that will minimize workplace noise and protect employees.
As more employees become aware of the recurring damage they have suffered due to workplace noise, they are coming forward. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Further Damage
Safeguarding your ears before they are damaged is the best plan if you work in a loud setting. Wearing protective earmuffs or earplugs on the job will help minimize potential damage.
Make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as possible if you suspect a noisy workplace has caused damage to your hearing. You will learn how to avoid added damage when you determine how much hearing damage you have. We address any hearing damage you’re already experiencing and formulate strategies to help you avoid any further damage.