Every year, about 2 million workplace injuries are reported. Normally, we think of a hand caught in a piece of machinery or a flying projectile when we consider work-related injuries.
But the most common workplace injury is much more pernicious and frequently goes unreported. Over the course of a few years, it will sneak up slowly on people. The injury goes unnoticed until the effects become impossible to overlook. People typically make excuses. “It’s just part of aging” or “It’s not a permanent issue”. This response is normal.
And it’s unusual for people to even recognize that their workplace is responsible for this injury.
The insidious injury is hearing damage. There are some important steps you should take if you detect 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 cleaner runs at about 75 decibels dB. Eighty-five dB for a lawnmower. If you’re exposed to a chainsaw or leaf blower you’re dealing with 100 dB. A gunshot is about 140 dB.
Are you at risk when in your work environment? Are you being exposed to the most common 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 constant.
Symptoms of Hearing Damage
You’re absolutely damaging your hearing if you work in a loud environment without hearing protection.
The following is are early warning signs that you’re dealing with hearing loss:
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background noise.
- You tend to disengage when people are talking.
- Your family and friends tell you your television, radio, or computer tablet volume is too high.
- You hear ringing, hissing, or whistling even when it’s quiet.
- Conversations sound muffled.
- When you speak with people you always believe they are mumbling
- You often ask people to repeat what they said.
- You confuse consonants – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for instance.
- Loud sounds cause pain in your ears.
What Are Employers Doing to Decrease Hearing Damage?
In environments that are really loud, technology is being used by businesses or organizations to reduce workplace noise. Government agencies are endeavoring to update recommendations that will decrease workplace noise and protect employees.
As more employees become aware of the chronic damage they have endured as a consequence of workplace noise, they are coming forward. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Further Damage
If you work in a loud environment, the best thing you can do is safeguard your ears before any damage occurs. Potential damage will be minimized by wearing protective earplugs or earmuffs.
Schedule an appointment for a hearing test as soon as possible if you believe a noisy workplace has caused damage to your hearing. When you identify the level of your hearing loss, you will find out how to avoid further damage going forward. We can help you develop strategies to protect against further hearing loss and address the damage you’ve already experienced.