Every year, about 2 million workplace injuries are documented. When you think about on-the-job injuries, you may think of flying objects or a hand caught in a piece of machinery at a factory.
But there is a far more insidious on-the-job injury that is even more prevalent and often unnoticed. Over several years, it will sneak up gradually on people. The injury goes undetected until the symptoms become impossible to ignore. Excuses are a normal reaction. “It will go away” or “I’m just getting older. This response is normal.
Many people don’t even recognize it was caused by their workplace environment.
Hearing damage is this insidious injury. There are some significant steps you should take if you recognize any of the numerous warning signs.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Sustained exposure to sounds above 85 decibels (dB) can result in permanent damage to your hearing. For reference, a vacuum runs at about 75 decibels dB. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. A leaf blower or chainsaw creates over 100 dB. And the volume of a gunshot comes in at 140 dB.
Are you at risk when you’re at work? Is the most common workplace injury an issue for you? If you’re regularly exposed to noise as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous, your hearing can become damaged over time.
Hearing Damage Signs
You’re definitely damaging your hearing if you work in a loud environment without hearing protection.
Your experiencing hearing loss if you notice any of the following signs:
- You feel pain when you hear loud sounds.
- You hear ringing, whistling, or hissing when it should be quiet.
- When you speak with people you constantly think they are mumbling
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- Your friends and family tell you your TV, radio, or computer tablet volume is too loud.
- You tend to disengage when others are talking.
- You frequently ask people to repeat what they said.
- Conversations sound muffled.
What Are Employers Doing to Decrease Hearing Damage?
Businesses and organizations are using the most recent technology to decrease workplace noise in overly loud settings. Government agencies are working to update recommendations that will minimize workplace noise and protect employees.
Employees are speaking out as they become aware of the long-term damage that workplace noise is causing. Over time, their voices will lead to further change.
Preventing Further Damage
Safeguarding your ears before they become damaged is the best plan if you work in a loud environment. Using protective earmuffs or earplugs while at work will help minimize potential damage.
If you suspect your hearing has been damaged by a noisy workplace, make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as possible. When you ascertain the extent of your hearing loss, you will find out how to prevent further damage going forward. We can help you formulate strategies to protect against further hearing loss and manage the damage you’ve already experienced.