What work-related condition plagues the most Americans?
Psssst… it’s probably not what you’d think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hearing loss is the most common workplace injury. By their estimate, about 22 million workers were exposed to dangerous noise levels at work on an annual basis.
So what happens when workers experience long-term effects? And how can we prevent this common but serious workplace injury? We’ll discuss after the jump.
The effects of excessive occupational noise
In jobs that involve exposure to prolonged or loud noises, workers are at significant risk. The effects of this exposure may include slight hearing loss, complete deafness, sensitivity to noise, dizziness and pain in the ear or head.
In addition, hearing loss can have serious psychological and social implications. Workers with ear injuries may feel cut off from others, or develop conditions such as anxiety or depression. These effects can be so debilitating that they prevent employees from going back to work.
People who have experienced hearing loss because of their working conditions may be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits covering their medical expenses and a portion of their wages. If you or someone you know have been hurt on the job, it’s always wise to contact an attorney.
Can I prevent work-related hearing loss?
The good news: some hearing loss in the workplace may be preventable. Earlier this summer, the Department of Labor launched a safety initiative called “Hear and Now” to combat this common work injury and help employees protect their hearing.
Workers can minimize the risk of hearing loss by wearing proper hearing protection, but much of the responsibility to prevent these injuries rests on employers. Employers can protect their workers by:
- Monitoring employees’ exposure to noise
- Keeping proper records and engineering controls
- Audiometric testing and employee hearing evaluations
- Educating employees about the risks and providing proper protection
If you have any concerns about your working environment, do not hesitate to raise them with your employer. They are required to take appropriate safety measures and prohibited from taking any retaliatory action against you.