Around two million workplace injuries are reported every year. Typically, we think about 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 often overlooked. It sneaks up on people very slowly over several years. The injury goes unnoticed until the symptoms become impossible to dismiss. People often make excuses. “It’s just part of growing older” or “It’s a short-term problem”. This response is common.
Many people don’t even realize it was related to their workplace environment.
Hearing damage is this insidious injury. There are some essential steps you should take if you detect 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. Seventy-five dB, for example, is the average volume of a vacuum. 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 in your work environment? Are you being exposed to the most prevalent workplace injury? Over time, your hearing is likely to be damaged if you’re regularly exposed to sound as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not constant.
Hearing Injury Signs
You’re absolutely damaging 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 can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- Your friends and family tell you your television, radio, or computer tablet volume is too loud.
- When you speak with people you constantly believe they are mumbling
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves when they talk.
- You feel pain when you hear loud noises.
- You hear ringing, hissing, or whistling even when it’s quiet.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
- When people speak, you tend withdraw.
What Are Employers Doing to Decrease Hearing Damage?
In environments that are really loud, technology is being used by organizations and businesses, to reduce workplace noise. Workplace noise will be decreased as new guidelines are being put in place by governments to safeguard workers.
Employees are coming forward 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 are damaged is the best plan if you work in a loud setting. Using protective headphones or earplugs while at work will help reduce 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 learn how to counter added damage when you determine how much hearing damage you have. We can help you develop strategies to avoid further hearing loss and manage the damage you’ve already experienced.