Approximately two million workplace injuries are reported every year. Normally, 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 much more pernicious on-the-job injury that is even more prevalent and frequently overlooked. It sneaks up on people really gradually over several years. The injury goes unnoticed until the effects become impossible to ignore. People typically make excuses. “It’s just part of growing older” or “It’s a temporary 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 several warning signs you should identify, and there are essential steps you need to take if you think the damage is already done.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Your hearing can be irreversibly damaged with regular exposure to as little as 85 decibels (dB) over a long period. For reference, a vacuum cleaner runs at about 75 decibels dB. A lawnmower delivers 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.
Are you at risk when in your work environment? Are you being exposed to the most common workplace injury? Over time, your hearing is likely to be damaged if you’re regularly exposed to sound as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous.
Hearing Injury Signs
You’re absolutely harming your hearing if you work in a loud environment without hearing protection.
Your experiencing hearing loss if you notice any of the following signs:
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- You regularly ask people to repeat what they said.
- Loud noises cause pain in your ears.
- People are always complaining about the high volume of your media devices.
- You tend to withdraw when others are talking.
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for instance.
- You think people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
- You’re hearing noises in your ears like ringing, hissing, or whistling.
How is Hearing Damage Being Tackled by Employers?
In settings that are really loud, technology is being put to use by organizations and businesses, to reduce workplace noise. Workplace noise will be lessened as new guidelines are being put in place by governments to safeguard workers.
As more employees become aware of the chronic damage they have endured as a consequence of workplace noise, they are speaking out. With time, their voices will result in further change.
Preventing Further Damage
Safeguarding your ears before they become damaged is the smartest plan if you work in a loud setting. 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, 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 can help you develop strategies to protect against additional hearing loss and address the damage you’ve already experienced.