Every year, about 2 million workplace injuries are documented. 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 frequently overlooked. Over the course of several years, it will sneak up gradually on people. The injury goes undetected until the symptoms become impossible to disregard. People typically make excuses. “It’s just part of growing older” or “It’s not a permanent problem”. This response is normal.
Many people don’t even recognize it was related to their workplace environment.
Damaged hearing 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?
Continual exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels (dB) can trigger permanent damage to your hearing. Seventy-five dB, for example, is the average volume of a vacuum. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. A chainsaw or leaf blower generates over 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 can be damaged if you’re regularly exposed to sound as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not constant.
Hearing Injury Signs
If you work in a loud environment, there’s no doubt you’re damaging your hearing.
The following is are early warning signs that you’re dealing with hearing loss:
- When people speak, you tend withdraw.
- When you talk with people you always think they are mumbling
- People are always complaining about the loud volume of your media devices.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- consonants get confused – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
- You experience pain when you hear loud sounds.
- You often ask people to repeat themselves.
- You’re hearing sounds in your ears like ringing, hissing, or whistling.
- Conversations sound muffled.
What Are Employers Doing to Decrease Hearing Damage?
Businesses and organizations are utilizing the latest technology to reduce workplace noise in overly loud settings. Workplace noise will be minimized as new recommendations are being put in place by governments to protect workers.
As more employees become aware of the recurring damage they have suffered as a consequence of workplace noise, they are speaking out. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Further Damage
Safeguarding your ears before they become damaged is the best plan if you work in a loud environment. Wearing protective earmuffs or earplugs while at work will help reduce 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 determine the level of your hearing loss, you will find out how to counter further damage going forward. We address any hearing damage you’re already experiencing and formulate strategies to help you prevent any further damage.