For many people, hearing loss comes with age. And that is only natural after years of exposure to noise levels above the 85-decibel range.
However, a large percentage of individuals with hearing loss can connect their impairment to their work. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that hearing loss is one of the most common work injuries employees report nationwide.
Loud work environments are the top cause of hearing loss
Hearing loss is the third most common impairment in the United States. According to the CDC, 22 million workers suffer exposure to dangerous noise levels every year. And nearly 19% of those workers develop a severe hearing impairment or deafness.
Many of those employees work in:
- Industrial factories
- Emergency first response
Maryland employees in these fields face a higher risk of hearing loss since they experience high noise levels daily, from loud machines to blaring sirens. However, almost any employee in any field of employment could be at risk of losing their hearing.
Surprisingly, noise is not the only cause
Most people only connect hearing loss to long-term exposure to loud noises in their workplace. However, the CDC also reports that 10 million workers each year are exposed to hazardous chemicals that could damage their hearing just as much as noise.
These unexpected materials and chemicals include:
- Paints and thinners
Manufacturers and industrial workers are at the greatest risk of hearing loss from chemical exposure.
Preventing hearing loss is critical
Hearing loss may be one of the most common impairments among workers, but it is also one of the most preventable.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers must provide and pay for protective gear for their employees. This includes earplugs or noise-canceling headphones if they work in an environment that could deteriorate their hearing.
There are more effects than meets the eye
Regardless of what caused the hearing loss, many employees experience significant side effects, and not just a loss of hearing.
Hearing loss can significantly affect someone’s balance and even cause severe headaches. Such complaints may also impair a person’s ability to work as well as their safety in the workplace. In addition to hearing loss, these physical complaints can increase the compensation due to the injured worker.
Hearing loss is a significant and expansive injury. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms potentially related to hearing loss, be sure that they seek medical attention. If the injury likely occurred on the job or they are not sure whether or not it is related to work, they should seek counsel from an experienced law firm that will advocate on the injured worker’s behalf.