About two million workplace injuries are documented every year. When you think of on-the-job injuries, you might think of flying objects or a hand caught in a piece of machinery at a factory.
But the most common workplace injury is a lot more insidious and often goes unreported. Over several years, it will sneak up slowly on people. The injury goes unnoticed until the effects become impossible to disregard. People often make excuses. “It will go away” or “I’m just getting older. This response is common.
Many people don’t even realize it was brought on by their workplace environment.
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?
Continual exposure to sounds louder than 85 decibels (dB) can result in long-term damage to your hearing. For reference, a vacuum 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 prevalent workplace injury? Over time, your hearing is likely to be damaged if you’re regularly exposed to sound as loud as a lawnmower, even if it’s not continuous.
Symptoms of Hearing Injury
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:
- Conversations sound muffled.
- You can’t understand the person speaking if there’s background noise.
- You hear ringing, hissing, or whistling even when it’s quiet.
- You feel pain when you hear loud sounds.
- When people speak, you tend disengage.
- Your family and friends tell you your TV, radio, or computer tablet volume is too high.
- You think people speaking to you are constantly mumbling.
- You often ask people to repeat what they said.
- consonants get confused – “Todd” sounds like “Dodd,” for example.
What Are Employers Doing to Lessen Hearing Damage?
Businesses and organizations are using the latest technology to decrease workplace noise in excessively loud environments. Workplace noise will be minimized as new recommendations are being put in place by governments to safeguard workers.
As more employees become aware of the recurring damage they have suffered as a result of workplace noise, they are coming forward. Further change will come as their voices are heard.
Preventing Additional Damage
Safeguarding your ears before they are damaged is the smartest plan if you work in a loud environment. Potential damage will be minimized by using protective earmuffs or earplugs.
If you believe your hearing has been injured by a noisy workplace, make an appointment for a hearing exam as soon as possible. You will learn how to avoid additional damage when you determine how much hearing damage you have. We address any hearing damage you already have and formulate strategies to help you avoid any further damage.