About two million workplace injuries are reported each year. 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 overlooked. It sneaks up on people extremely slowly over the course of several years. Most individuals don’t even detect it’s occurring until it becomes severe. Excuses are a normal reaction. “It’s just part of aging” or “It’s a temporary problem”. This is normal.
And it’s unusual for people to even acknowledge that their workplace is responsible for this injury.
The insidious injury is hearing damage. 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.
Exactly When Does The Volume Become “Too Loud”?
Regular exposure to sounds above 85 decibels (dB) can trigger long-term damage to your hearing. For reference, a vacuum cleaner runs at around 75 decibels dB. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. If you’re exposed to a chainsaw or leaf blower you’re dealing with 100 dB. A gunshot is about 140 dB.
Are you at risk when you’re at work? Are you being exposed to the most prevalent workplace injury? Over time, your hearing can be damaged if you are regularly exposed to sound as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous.
Symptoms of Hearing Damage
If you work in a loud environment, there’s no question you’re damaging your hearing.
What follows is are early warning signs that you’re dealing with hearing loss:
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for instance.
- You tend to disengage when people are talking.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- You think people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
- You hear ringing, hissing, or whistling when it should be quiet.
- You feel pain when you hear loud noises.
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves when they talk.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- Your family and friends tell you your TV, radio, or computer tablet volume is too loud.
How is Hearing Damage Being Addressed by Employers?
In settings that are extremely loud, technology is being used by businesses or organizations to reduce workplace noise. Government agencies are endeavoring to update guidelines that will decrease workplace noise and protect employees.
Employees are coming forward as they become aware of the long-term damage that workplace noise is causing. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Further Damage
If you work in a noisy environment, the best thing you can do is safeguard your ears before any damage occurs. Wearing protective headphones or earplugs while at work will help minimize potential damage.
If you believe your hearing has been damaged by a noisy workplace, make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as possible. You will discover how to counter additional damage when you determine how much hearing damage you have. We address any hearing damage you’re already experiencing and develop strategies to help you prevent any additional damage.