Each year, about 2 million workplace injuries are reported. When you think about on-the-job injuries, you might think of flying objects or a hand caught in a piece of machinery at a factory.
But there is a much more insidious on-the-job injury that is even more prevalent and frequently overlooked. Over a few years, it will sneak up slowly on people. The injury goes undetected until the symptoms become impossible to dismiss. People typically make excuses. “It’s only temporary” or “I’m just getting older. This response is common.
Many individuals don’t even realize it was related to their workplace environment.
The insidious injury is hearing damage. There are a number of warning signs you should identify, and there are essential steps you need to take if you suspect the damage is already done.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Sustained exposure to sounds above 85 decibels (dB) can cause long-term damage to your hearing. Seventy-five dB, for instance, is the average volume of a vacuum cleaner. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. A leaf blower or chainsaw generates over 100 dB. A gunshot is about 140 dB.
How loud is your workplace? Is the most common workplace injury a problem for you? If you’re frequently exposed to something as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous, your hearing is likely to become damaged over time.
Symptoms of Hearing Damage
You’re absolutely harming your hearing if you work in a noisy environment without hearing protection.
Your experiencing hearing loss if you notice any of the following signs:
- You tend to disengage when people are talking.
- You regularly ask people to repeat themselves when they talk.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- When you talk with people you constantly think they are mumbling
- consonants get confused – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background noise.
- You experience pain when you hear loud noises.
- People are always complaining about the loud volume of your media devices.
- You’re hearing sounds in your ears like ringing, hissing, or whistling.
How is Hearing Damage Being Addressed by Employers?
Businesses and organizations are utilizing the latest technology to lessen workplace noise in overly loud environments. Government agencies are endeavoring to modify guidelines that will minimize workplace noise and protect employees.
Employees are speaking out as they become aware of the chronic damage that workplace noise is causing. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Further Damage
Safeguarding your ears before they become damaged is the smartest plan if you work in a loud environment. Wearing protective headphones or earplugs while at work will help decrease potential damage.
Schedule an appointment for a hearing test as soon as possible if you think a noisy workplace has caused damage to your hearing. When you ascertain the level of your hearing loss, you will learn how to counter further damage going forward. We can help you develop strategies to avoid further hearing loss and deal with the damage you’ve already experienced.