About two million workplace injuries are documented 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 the most prevalent workplace injury is a lot more pernicious and frequently goes unreported. It sneaks up on people very gradually over several years. The majority of people don’t even notice it’s happening until it becomes significant. Excuses are a normal reaction. “It’s just part of the aging process” or “It’s a temporary issue”. This is normal.
And it’s unusual for people to even recognize that their workplace is the cause of this injury.
Hearing damage is this insidious injury. There are some significant 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 around 75 decibels dB. A lawnmower generates 85 dB. A leaf blower or chainsaw produces over 100 dB. A gunshot is about 140 dB.
How loud is your workplace? Is the most common workplace injury a problem for you? Over time, your hearing can be damaged if you are regularly exposed to sound as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous.
Hearing Injury Signs
If you work in a noisy environment, there’s no question you’re harming your hearing.
What follows is are early warning signs that you’re dealing with hearing loss:
- You suspect people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- You regularly ask people to repeat themselves when they speak.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- You’re hearing sounds in your ears like ringing, whistling, or hissing.
- Your family and friends tell you your TV, radio, or computer tablet volume is too loud.
- Loud noises cause pain in your ears.
- consonants get confused – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for instance.
- When people speak, you tend withdraw.
What Are Employers Doing to Lessen Hearing Damage?
In settings that are very loud, technology is being used by organizations and businesses, to reduce workplace noise. Government agencies are endeavoring to update guidelines that will minimize workplace noise and protect employees.
Employees are speaking out as they become mindful of the chronic damage that workplace noise is causing. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Additional Damage
Protecting your ears before they are damaged is the best plan if you work in a loud setting. Potential damage will be decreased by using protective earplugs or earmuffs.
If you believe your hearing has been damaged by a noisy workplace, make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as you can. You will discover how to avoid added damage when you determine how much hearing damage you’re dealing with. We can help you formulate strategies to protect against further hearing loss and deal with the damage you’ve already experienced.