Each year, approximately 2 million workplace injuries are reported. When you think about on-the-job injuries, you might think of flying objects or a hand pulled into a piece of machinery at a factory.
But there is a much more insidious on-the-job injury that is even more common and often undetected. Over a few years, it will sneak up slowly on people. Most people don’t even detect it’s occurring until it becomes severe. People typically make excuses. “It’s only temporary” or “I’m just getting older. This is normal.
And it’s unusual for people to even acknowledge that their workplace is the cause of this injury.
The insidious injury is damaged hearing. There are numerous warning signs you should identify, and there are important steps you need to take if you think the damage is already done.
Exactly When Does The Volume Become “Too Loud”?
Sustained exposure to sounds above 85 decibels (dB) can trigger long-term damage to your hearing. For reference, a vacuum cleaner runs at about 75 decibels dB. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. A chainsaw or leaf blower generates more than 100 dB. A gunshot is around 140 dB.
Are you at risk when you’re at work? Are you being exposed to the most prevalent workplace injury? If you’re regularly exposed to something as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous, your hearing can become damaged over time.
Hearing Injury Signs
If you work in a loud environment, there’s no doubt you’re damaging your hearing.
What follows is are early warning signs that you’re experiencing hearing loss:
- You tend to disengage when others are talking.
- You’re hearing noises in your ears like ringing, whistling, or hissing.
- Your family and friends tell you your television, radio, or computer tablet volume is too loud.
- Loud noises cause pain in your ears.
- You regularly ask people to repeat what they said.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- When you speak with people you constantly believe they are mumbling
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
What Are Employers Doing to Decrease Hearing Damage?
In settings that are extremely loud, technology is being used by businesses or organizations to reduce workplace noise. Government agencies are endeavoring to modify recommendations that will reduce workplace noise and protect employees.
As more employees become aware of the chronic damage they have suffered due to workplace noise, they are speaking out. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Further Damage
If you work in a loud setting, the best thing you can do is protect your ears before any damage takes place. Wearing protective earmuffs or earplugs on the job will help minimize potential damage.
If you think your hearing has been damaged by a noisy workplace, schedule a hearing test as soon as possible. When you determine the degree of your hearing loss, you will find out how to counter further damage going forward. We can help you formulate strategies to avoid additional hearing loss and deal with the damage you’ve already experienced.