Every year, roughly 2 million workplace injuries are documented. 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 the most common workplace injury is far more insidious and often goes unreported. Over the course of a few years, it will sneak up gradually on people. The majority of individuals don’t even notice it’s occurring until it becomes severe. People often make excuses. “It’s only temporary” or “I’m just getting older. This is normal.
Many individuals don’t even recognize it was related to their workplace environment.
The insidious injury is hearing damage. There are some important steps you should take if you recognize any of the numerous warning signs.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Regular exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels (dB) can cause long-term damage to your hearing. Seventy-five dB, for example, is the average volume of a vacuum cleaner. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. A chainsaw or leaf blower creates more than 100 dB. A gunshot is about 140 dB.
How noisy is your workplace? Is the most common workplace injury a problem for you? Over time, your hearing can be damaged if you’re regularly exposed to sound as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not constant.
Signs of Hearing Injury
If you work in a noisy environment, there’s no doubt you’re damaging your hearing.
What follows is are early warning signs that you’re dealing with hearing loss:
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for instance.
- You suspect people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
- Your family and friends tell you your TV, radio, or computer tablet volume is too loud.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- You tend to disengage when others are talking.
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves when they speak.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background noise.
- You’re hearing noises in your ears like ringing, hissing, or whistling.
- You feel pain when you hear loud sounds.
What Are Employers Doing to Decrease Hearing Damage?
In settings that are very loud, technology is being put to use by businesses or organizations to reduce workplace noise. Government agencies are working to modify guidelines that will reduce workplace noise and protect employees.
As more employees become aware of the chronic damage they have suffered as a consequence of workplace noise, they are speaking out. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Additional Damage
Safeguarding your ears before they are damaged is the best plan if you work in a loud setting. Wearing protective earmuffs or earplugs on the job will help minimize potential damage.
If you think your hearing has been injured by a noisy workplace, make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as you can. When you ascertain the degree of your hearing loss, you will learn how to avoid further damage going forward. We can help you develop strategies to prevent further hearing loss and manage the damage you’ve already experienced.