Hearing Loss and Workplace Noise Exposure
February 21, 2019
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than 22 million working men and women are exposed to dangerous levels of noise in the workplace every year. A recent study documented the close link between instances of job-related hearing loss and the early breakdown of a person’s ear canal, which can cause severe – or complete –loss of hearing.
The study’s findings confirm that people exposed to high levels of noise in the workplace are more likely to experience an irreversible hearing loss. In order to limit preventable instances of occupational hearing loss, employers must implement effective safety and health programs.
Hearing Loss from Noise Exposure
When a person is exposed to a dangerously high level of noise, his or her ears reduce their ability to hear it in order to limit damage. But for millions of unprotected workers – like those who go without required safety equipment, training, and supervision – repetitive and extreme noise exposure results in permanent consequences.
As people age, they start to lose their hearing – it simply results from slow (but chronic) degeneration of the auditory nerves and inner ear area. Although employers are legally required to abide by federal standards on noise exposure in the workplace, the study shows how far too often hardworking men and women experience early, preventable – and impossible to reverse – hearing loss that result from safety lapses on the job.
Signs of Presbycusis, or Age-Related Hearing Loss
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of age-related hearing loss – which can happen prematurely due to hazardous workplace exposure – include:
- Difficulty hearing in loud areas;
- Ringing in the ears;
- Hearing people’s voices as mumbled or slurred;
- The person experiencing hearing loss begins speaking more loudly;
- Deep pitches are easier to hear than high pitches, and:
- The sensation of “stuffy” or “full” ears
Once a person develops early hearing loss, no form of medical intervention can fully restore it. But by implementing certain health and safety protocols, responsible employers can decrease the consequences that workers face from these known and preventable hazards.
How to Avoid Job-Related Hearing Loss
In order to limit preventable hearing loss, OSHA has numerous safety standards and effective controls in place. Here are some examples of the organization’s workplace noise control measures:
- Replace or modify excessively loud equipment;
- Limit how much time a worker spends around a noisy machine;
- Extend the space between workers and loud areas;
- Maintain and lubricate machinery and equipment (e.g. oil bearings);
- Enclose or isolate noise sources, and:
- Place barriers around employees or noise sources, such as curtains or walls
Would you like to learn more about the hazards of noise exposure in the workplace? You can visit OSHA’s website here: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation/healtheffects.html. If you have any additional questions about workplace illnesses or injuries, please contact a representative at our firm who can help direct your call.
Allentown Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Individuals Injured at Work
If you were injured at work, please contact our Allentown Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.