When most people think about workplace injuries they likely think about a sudden accident that leaves the worker either temporarily or permanently unable to do his or her job. While such incidents do of course happen, workers could also face injuries due to repetitive exposure to certain conditions. An example of this is the loss of hearing. In fact, hearing loss has become the work-related injury most commonly reported. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year, 22 million workers face exposure to levels of noise at work that are hazardous.
Preventing hearing loss in the workplace
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues guidelines regarding what it deems to be safe levels of noise for workers to be exposed to in the course of employment. At prescribed levels, employers are required to provide equipment that provides sound protection.
Who’s at risk?
While workers who are exposed to high levels of noise are of course at risk for hearing loss, they are not the only group of employees that need to be concerned. Interestingly, a study conducted by a Stanford University professor, found that workers who ultimately face the greatest hearing loss do not work in high-noise environment. Instead, it is those who are exposed to moderate noise levels in the workplace who experience hearing loss most often because they do not routinely wear their protective gear.
Is enough being done?
According to some, OSHA’s levels are not adequate. The regulations allegedly fail to take into account the impact workers’ exposure to noise in other settings can have on their hearing. Monitoring real time noise exposure for hazardous levels, getting rid of equipment that is too loud and creating noise barriers could help with the issue.
Workers’ compensation benefits
If you suffered hearing loss in the course of completing tasks tied to your job, you may be able to secure workers’ compensation benefits. According to the Department of Labor, each year workers who suffer from hearing loss disability receive a total of approximately $242 million in workers’ compensation benefits. Because benefits are not always easy to obtain, a workers’ compensation lawyer may be of assistance.