Each year, roughly 2 million workplace injuries are reported. Typically, we think about a hand caught in a piece of machinery or a flying projectile when we consider work-related injuries.
But there is a far more insidious on-the-job injury that is even more common and often undetected. Over the course of several years, it will sneak up gradually on people. The injury goes undetected until the effects become impossible to dismiss. Excuses are a typical reaction. “It will go away” 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.
Hearing damage is this insidious injury. There are a number of warning signs you should recognize, and there are significant steps you need to take if you think the damage is already done.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Your hearing can be irreversibly damaged with prolonged exposure to as little as 85 decibels (dB) over a long period. For reference, a vacuum cleaner runs at about 75 decibels dB. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. If you’re exposed to a leaf blower or a chainsaw you’re experiencing 100 dB. A gunshot is about 140 dB.
How loud is your workplace? Are you being exposed to the most prevalent workplace injury? Over time, your hearing can be damaged if you’re regularly exposed to sound as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous.
Hearing Injury Signs
You’re definitely harming your hearing if you work in a loud environment without hearing protection.
What follows is are early warning signs that you’re dealing with hearing loss:
- You’re hearing sounds in your ears like ringing, whistling, or hissing.
- Loud sounds cause pain in your ears.
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
- You think people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background sound.
- You tend to withdraw when people are talking.
- Your friends and family tell you your TV, radio, or computer tablet volume is too loud.
- You regularly ask people to repeat themselves.
- Conversations sound muffled.
How is Hearing Damage Being Tackled by Employers?
Businesses and organizations are working with the latest technology to lessen workplace noise in excessively loud environments. Workplace noise will be reduced as new guidelines are being put in place by governments to protect workers.
Employees are coming forward as they become aware of the long-term damage that workplace noise is causing. With time, their voices will lead to further change.
Preventing Further Damage
If you work in a noisy setting, the best thing you can do is safeguard your ears before any damage occurs. Wearing protective earmuffs or earplugs while at work will help minimize potential damage.
If you suspect your hearing has been injured by a noisy workplace, make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as possible. You will discover how to avoid additional damage when you find out how much hearing damage you’re dealing with. We can help you develop strategies to protect against additional hearing loss and address the damage you’ve already experienced.