Around two million workplace injuries are documented every year. When you think of on-the-job injuries, you might think of flying objects or a hand pulled into a piece of machinery at a factory.
But there is a much more pernicious on-the-job injury that is even more common and frequently undetected. It sneaks up on people very gradually over the course of several years. The injury goes unnoticed until the symptoms become impossible to ignore. People often make excuses. “It will go away” or “I’m just getting older. This is normal.
Many people don’t even realize it was brought on by their workplace environment.
The insidious injury is hearing damage. 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 regular exposure to as little as 85 decibels (dB) over a long period. For reference, a vacuum cleaner runs at about 75 decibels dB. A lawnmower generates 85 dB. A leaf blower or chainsaw creates over 100 dB. And the volume of a gunshot logs in at 140 dB.
Are you at risk when you’re at work? Are you being exposed to the most prevalent workplace injury? If you’re regularly exposed to something as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not constant, your hearing is likely to become damaged over time.
Hearing Damage Signs
If you work in a noisy environment, there’s no question you’re damaging your hearing.
Your experiencing hearing loss if you notice any of the following signs:
- Your friends and family tell you your TV, radio, or computer tablet volume is too high.
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves when they speak.
- Loud sounds cause pain in your ears.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background noise.
- When you talk with people you always believe they are mumbling
- When people speak, you tend disengage.
- You hear ringing, hissing, or whistling when it should be quiet.
- consonants get confused – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
- Conversations sound muffled.
How is Hearing Damage Being Dealt With by Employers?
In settings that are very loud, technology is being put to use by businesses or organizations to reduce workplace noise. Workplace noise will be reduced as new guidelines 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. In time, their voices will bring about further change.
Preventing Additional Damage
If you work in a loud environment, the smartest thing you can do is protect your ears before any damage occurs. Wearing protective headphones or earplugs on the job will help reduce potential damage.
If you suspect your hearing has been injured by a noisy workplace, make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as possible. When you determine the level of your hearing loss, you will learn how to prevent further damage going forward. We can help you develop strategies to prevent additional hearing loss and manage the damage you’ve already experienced.