Hearing loss is the third most prevalent health condition in the United States, affecting 20% of people in America. Loss of hearing may not be the first thing you think of when you think of work-related injuries, but research suggests that it is one of the most common types of injuries today.
Current research has found that approximately 13% of employees in America have some form of work-related hearing loss. This occurs when workers work in noisy environments over a period of time. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found in 2016 that out of every 8 workers, 1 of them has some form of hearing damage. Certain industries are more prone to giving rise to higher hearing loss rates in workers than others.
The study notes that 17% of people who work in the mining industry have hearing loss, which is not surprising since mining is known to be the loudest industry, with noise levels reaching up to 76%! Following closely, 16% of people who work in the field of construction have hearing loss. Third on the list are people from the manufacturing industry, with hearing loss rates affecting 14% of workers.
When it comes to hearing loss, we think of it as a problem of the elderly. In reality, noise-induced hearing loss can affect anyone at any point in their lifetime. This type of hearing loss occurs when a person is exposed to excessively loud levels of noise over an extended period of time.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) reported that 22 million employees are subjected to unsafe levels of noise in the workplace every single year. This resulted in compensation payments of $1.5 million to workers who suffered hearing damage due to inadequate hearing protection in their workplace only in the past year!
If you work in any of the above listed industries, it is imperative that you take steps to protect your own hearing, irrespective of whether you are provided with hearing protection gear by your employers. When you are provided with auditory protective gear, make sure you use it regularly when you are at work. Hearing loss is irreversible and no amount of monetary compensation can replace your lost hearing once it is gone.
Increase awareness of hearing protection in the workplace. Remember that any noise level above 85dB can damage your hearing over time. You can easily find out what the level of noise is at your workplace by downloading an application on your smart phone that checks for noise levels in decibels. If you find that the noise levels in your workplace are too loud, talk to your employer about providing you with hearing protection or better yet, simply pack a pair of earplugs or earmuffs with you to use while at work. Most importantly, make sure you have a hearing test every year if you work in any of the industries mentioned above.
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