If you are finding yourself asking your friends and family members to repeat themselves more often than you once did, you may be among a growing number of Americans suffering from work-related hearing loss. The problem is so widespread, in fact, that USA Today reports that it is the most common work-related injury affecting the nation’s workforce today, impacting more than 22 million people and costing employers roughly $242 million every year in workers’ compensation costs.
While many people assume that those who work in notoriously loud environments, such as construction sites or mining operations, face the highest degree of risk of suffering work-related hearing loss, this is not always the case.
Lower noise levels do not mean less danger
According to one study, your risk of suffering workplace hearing loss is actually higher when you work in an environment where noise levels are moderate rather than severe. This is likely due in part to the fact that those working in indisputably loud environments are far more likely to take proper precautions to protect themselves, meaning they are more likely to consistently don proper ear protection.
Those who work in environments where the risks might appear less severe, meanwhile, are less likely to faithfully follow regulations and protect themselves, meaning they are more likely to face continued exposure to potentially dangerous levels of noise.
While the U.S. Department of Labor is actively seeking new methods of lowering workplace noise levels and minimizing risks, employees at many companies across the nation face exposure to dangerous levels of noise every day. Employers may be able to lessen risks for their employees by creating sound barriers, upgrading their noisy machines and teaching their workers about the dangers of workplace noise exposure.
As an employee, you can minimize your own risk of suffering workplace hearing loss by always wearing ear protection and learning and adhering to any safety regulations currently in place in your work environment.