Hearing loss is a common workplace injury in the U.S.
Those who work in the construction and manufacturing industries are at the highest risk for work-related hearing loss. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and U.S. Department of Labor have established initiatives relating to workplace hearing loss.
Work-Related Hearing Loss Statistics
Many workers, particularly those working in the manufacturing and construction industry, are continually exposed to high noise levels at workplace, causing permanent hearing damage. Each year, 22 million workers are exposed to high levels of noise at work. 4 million workers are exposed to harmful levels of noise each day in the U.S. Businesses are made to pay $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting their workers from harmful noise levels. Furthermore, $242 million is spent each year on workers compensation claims stemming from hearing loss.
OSHA Initiative – Hearing and Now
OSHA has launched an initiative known as “Hear and Now” for soliciting technology ideas that can help overcome barriers in hearing loss prevention at workplaces. Those who submit the most promising ideas will get an opportunity to present their ideas to investors at the Noise Safety Challenge event to be held on Oct 27. It is definitely a step in the right direction and will eventually help prevent work-related hearing loss.
However, the fact remains that technology is just one aspect of hearing loss prevention. The advanced technologies that can prevent auditory damage already exist; however, many companies do not invest in this technology because of cost and other considerations. Workers do not always wear proper earplugs and other safety equipment while working. One reason for this could be lack of training. Employers often fail to educate the workers on the risks associated with long periods of exposure to loud noises. This is particularly true in cases of workers who are exposed to low and moderately loud noises. They tend to believe that the lower sound levels are not as damaging.
Protecting Employees from Hearing Loss
- Isolate sources of noise.
- Use more effective protective equipment.
- Invest in and use quieter machines.
- Minimize exposure to loud noises.
- Train workers on the risks associated with sustained levels of dangerous noise levels and the importance of wearing proper protective gear.
St. Louis Work Comp Attorney
If you suspect that you have suffered some auditory damage as a result of your work, immediately seek medical attention. See a doctor if you find it difficult to understand a conversation, especially when there is background noise, sounds seem muffled, or you have to crank up the volume of your cell phone or television. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your permanent hearing loss. Talk to a St. Louis work comp lawyer to know more about your rights. Call The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann at (314) 361-4300.