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What is the most common workplace injury?

If you were asked to name what you believe is the number one workplace injury, you’d most likely say some type of repetitive or machine-related injury or a fall. Few, though, would suspect that hearing loss is at the top of the list instead.

Yet it is. In fact, a recent statistic published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that some 22 million workers are exposed to noise levels that result in permanent hearing loss each year.

The industries where hearing loss is most profound include construction, mining, and manufacturing. Regulators in those industries require workers to wear gear to protect their hearing. It’s the professions where more medium-decibel sounds dominate that are particularly insidious because employees don’t realize just how precarious of a situation they’re in.

Workers in these types of lower-volume industries are particularly at risk because they don’t wear protective covering for their ears. In many cases, they don’t think that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) recommendation for individuals exposed to 85 decibels or higher during an eight-hour day applies to them.

New technology exists that can help employees track just how high the decibels are to which they’re exposed. Alerts can even indicate when noise levels exceed certain thresholds. The researchers argue this isn’t necessarily the worker’s responsibility, though. Instead, they note employers can be more responsive in minimizing employee risk to harmful noise levels by restricting the sound level and replacing noisy office equipment with newer, quieter models.

This could be a particularly effective approach for employers to pursue. In fact, the Department of Labor says that their liability insurance premiums go toward paying as much as $242 million annually for workers’ hearing loss claims.

In Pennsylvania, it’s necessary for a worker to have suffered at least 10 percent of hearing loss in each ear to qualify to receive workers’ compensation disability payments. If you’ve suffered hearing loss on the job, then a Dauphin workers’ compensation attorney can advise you as to whether you meet the necessary conditions to file a claim in the state.

Source:, “The Most Common Workplace Injury — It’s Not What You Expect,” Mike DeFelice, accessed Aug. 11, 2017


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