When Florida workers think about the potential risks of injury that they face in their workplace, they often think of the most common injuries, such as muscle strains and tears or serious falls.
However, not all of those dangers are visible. In fact, many of them are audible. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 22 million workers are subject to hazardous noise levels in the workplace that could result in a serious hearing impairment each year.
Who is at the most risk for occupational hearing loss?
Many jobs involve dangerous noise levels—and even dangerous chemical exposure—that can lead to hearing loss. Workers that face the highest threat of sustaining a hearing impairment at work include:
- Construction workers
- First responders
- Airline workers
However, the CDC states that employees in every field of work could be at risk of hearing loss.
The danger surrounding hearing loss is that it is not usually a one-time incident, as many other injuries are. Hearing loss is often gradual over many years of work, so workers might not even be aware of it until much later. This can make it difficult to pinpoint or connect the hearing loss to working conditions or events.
There is more at stake than just your hearing
Hearing loss can result in several other side effects, but two of the main concerns are:
- Loss of enjoyment of life: Moderate to complete hearing loss can impact nearly every aspect of someone’s life. Losing the ability to hear and understand loved ones, or even listen to music can leave many people feeling isolated and facing symptoms of depression.
- Decreased safety: Hearing loss also increases the chance of sustaining other injuries. If individuals do not hear warnings, alerts or even traffic, they could face a serious risk of a life-threatening injury.
What is unfortunate is that occupational hearing loss and its effects are entirely preventable.
So, how can you protect your hearing?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide their employees with proper safety equipment to protect employees’ health. However, there are measures that workers can take to protect their hearing at the workplace as well, such as:
- Wearing protective headphones or custom earplugs
- Reducing the time in areas with high noise levels, if possible
- Confirming the employer has made efforts to protect employees
- Checking their hearing with a professional regularly
It is not too late for workers to protect their hearing. And workers with occupational hearing impairments might be able to recover workers’ compensation, as long as it is connected to their work.