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 pulled into a piece of machinery at a factory.
But the most prevalent workplace injury is far more insidious and frequently goes unreported. Over the course of a few years, it will sneak up gradually on people. The majority of individuals don’t even recognize it’s happening until it becomes significant. People often make excuses. “It’s just part of aging” or “It’s a short-term issue”. This is normal.
And it’s unusual for people to even recognize that their workplace is responsible for this injury.
The insidious injury is damaged hearing. There are a number of warning signs you should recognize, and there are essential steps you need to take if you suspect the damage is already done.
Exactly When Does The Volume Become “Too Loud”?
Your hearing can be irreversibly damaged with sustained exposure to as little as 85 decibels (dB) over a long period. Seventy-five dB, for instance, is the average volume of a vacuum. A lawnmower delivers 85 dB. 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 in your work environment? Is the most common workplace injury an issue for you? If you’re regularly exposed to noise as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not constant, your hearing is likely to become damaged over time.
Hearing Injury Signs
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 experiencing hearing loss:
- You hear ringing, hissing, or whistling when it should be quiet.
- When people speak, you tend withdraw.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background noise.
- You regularly ask people to repeat themselves when they speak.
- consonants get confused – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for instance.
- Loud sounds cause pain in your ears.
- You suspect people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
- People are always complaining about the high volume of your media devices.
- Conversations sound muffled.
How is Hearing Damage Being Dealt With by Employers?
In settings that are really loud, technology is being put to use by organizations and businesses, to reduce workplace noise. Government agencies are working to update recommendations that will decrease workplace noise and protect employees.
As more employees become aware of the recurring damage they have endured due to workplace noise, they are speaking out. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Additional Damage
If you work in a loud environment, the best thing you can do is protect your ears before any damage is done. Potential damage will be decreased by wearing protective earplugs or earmuffs.
If you believe your hearing has been damaged by a noisy workplace, make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as possible. When you determine the degree of your hearing loss, you will find out how to avoid further damage going forward. We can help you formulate strategies to avoid further hearing loss and manage the damage you’ve already experienced.