Hearing loss isn’t necessarily an inevitable fact of aging — but it is a common occupational hazard that affects many different kinds of workers. Factory employees, construction workers, police officers, firefighters and paramedics, for example, are among some of the diverse types of workers who can suffer job-related hearing loss.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), there are about 30 million workers in this country who are exposed to noise levels that are above 85 decibels on a regular basis — which is enough to cause permanent damage to their hearing. To give you an idea of what that means, a normal conversation is usually about 60 decibels — so it’s not a huge difference!
Workers in some industries naturally have it harder than others when it comes to noise-induced hearing loss. While only 9% of the general population can expect to have hearing loss at the age of 50, 30% of those involved in manufacturing will experience hearing loss at the same age. About 36% of those involved in farming can expect hearing loss by then — while 60% of those in construction will develop some degree of trouble.
There are ways that you can protect your hearing on the job. Many industries encourage the use of protective headgear that is designed to reduce noise levels — but the headgear is seldom enforced in some occupations. For example, studies have shown that factory workers are more likely to wear hearing protection than farmers.
If you’re starting to suffer hearing loss after a lifetime of exposure to loud noises in the workplace, don’t assume that you’re just aging. Your hearing loss may be a work injury that’s due compensation. Workers’ compensation benefits may be available. Contact an experienced attorney to learn more.