Around two million workplace injuries are reported every 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 much more insidious on-the-job injury that is even more common and often unnoticed. Over several years, it will sneak up gradually on people. Most individuals don’t even recognize it’s happening until it becomes significant. People typically make excuses. “It’s just part of aging” or “It’s a short-term issue”. This response is common.
Many individuals don’t even recognize it was related to their workplace environment.
Damaged hearing is this insidious injury. There are some essential steps you should take if you recognize any of the numerous warning signs.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Your hearing can be permanently damaged with prolonged exposure to as little as 85 decibels (dB) over a long period. For reference, a vacuum cleaner runs at about 75 decibels dB. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. If you’re exposed to a leaf blower or a chainsaw you’re experiencing 100 dB. A gunshot is around 140 dB.
Are you at risk when you’re at work? Is the most common workplace injury an issue for you? If you’re frequently exposed to something as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous, your hearing can become damaged over time.
Symptoms of Hearing Damage
You’re definitely damaging your hearing if you work in a noisy environment without hearing protection.
The following is are early warning signs that you’re dealing with hearing loss:
- You hear ringing, whistling, or hissing even when it’s quiet.
- You think people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for instance.
- 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 high.
- When people speak, you tend withdraw.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- You experience pain when you hear loud noises.
- You frequently ask people to repeat what they said.
What Are Employers Doing to Lessen Hearing Damage?
Businesses and organizations are utilizing the latest technology to lessen workplace noise in excessively loud environments. Workplace noise will be lessened as new recommendations are being put in place by governments to protect workers.
As more employees become aware of the chronic damage they have suffered as a result of workplace noise, they are speaking out. 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. Potential damage will be decreased by using protective earmuffs or earplugs.
Make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as possible if you believe a noisy workplace has caused damage to your hearing. When you determine the degree of your hearing loss, you will find out how to counter further damage going forward. We can help you develop strategies to protect against further hearing loss and manage the damage you’ve already experienced.