Approximately two million workplace injuries are reported each year. When you think of on-the-job injuries, you may think of flying objects or a hand pulled into a piece of machinery at a factory.
But there is a far more insidious on-the-job injury that is even more prevalent and often unnoticed. It sneaks up on people very gradually over the course of several years. The injury goes unnoticed until the symptoms become impossible to dismiss. Excuses are a typical reaction. “It’s just part of growing older” or “It’s not a permanent issue”. This response is common.
Many people don’t even realize it was caused by their workplace environment.
The insidious injury is damaged hearing. There are some important steps you should take if you notice any of the numerous warning signs.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Your hearing can be irreversibly damaged with sustained exposure to as little as 85 decibels (dB) over a long period. For reference, a vacuum runs at about 75 decibels dB. A lawnmower delivers 85 dB. If you’re exposed to a chainsaw or leaf blower you’re dealing with 100 dB. A gunshot is about 140 dB.
How noisy is your workplace? Are you being exposed to the most common 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 continuous.
Symptoms of Hearing Injury
You’re definitely harming your hearing if you work in a noisy environment without hearing protection.
What follows is are early warning signs that you’re experiencing hearing loss:
- You feel pain when you hear loud noises.
- You regularly ask people to repeat what they said.
- Your family and friends tell you your TV, radio, or computer tablet volume is too high.
- consonants get confused – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for instance.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background noise.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- You’re hearing sounds in your ears like ringing, whistling, or hissing.
- When you speak with people you always think they are mumbling
- You tend to disengage when others are talking.
How is Hearing Damage Being Dealt With by Employers?
In environments that are very loud, technology is being put to use by businesses or organizations to reduce workplace noise. Workplace noise will be decreased as new recommendations are being put in place by governments to protect workers.
Employees are coming forward as they become mindful of the long-term damage that workplace noise is causing. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Additional Damage
If you work in a noisy environment, the smartest thing you can do is safeguard your ears before any damage takes place. Using protective headphones or earplugs on the job will help reduce potential damage.
If you think your hearing has been damaged by a noisy workplace, schedule a hearing test as soon as possible. You will learn how to counter additional damage when you determine how much hearing damage you have. We can help you develop strategies to prevent further hearing loss and manage the damage you’ve already experienced.