Arthritis, high blood pressure and hearing loss are the most frequently experienced chronic physical conditions in the United States. Though they have a variety of causes, hearing loss may be one of the most easily traceable, especially when it comes to Kentucky residents suffering hearing loss within their workplaces.
Workplace hearing loss is still common
11% of the people working in the United States have problems with their hearing, and almost one in four employees developed those issues while they were at work. This generally happens when workers are exposed to loud noises or dangerous chemicals. It can happen all at once, but it’s more likely to occur gradually over a long period of time.
Ototoxic chemicals, for example, have the potential to damage the inner ear and cause hearing problems. In some workers’ compensation cases, the combination of these chemicals with high decibels may exacerbate the damage and resultant loss of hearing.
It’s not always easy to tell if conditions are too loud to be working in, and some employees may be averse to donning the required hearing protection for a variety of reasons. In certain work situations, it may make the job more difficult or hazardous, creating a communication roadblock. However, it’s important to remember that long-term hearing loss makes it harder to communicate as well.
When does noise become a workplace hazard?
85 decibels is the limit for noise before it is officially deemed hazardous. Essentially, volume is considered to be at dangerous levels if you have to raise your voice to talk to someone who is an arm’s length away.
For industrial and construction workers, it may be clear where occupational hazards come into play. But these aren’t the only people who need to be aware of hearing loss prevention techniques because sometimes, the risk isn’t so obvious.
This may be the case if you work in an office and put in earbuds to get through the workday. Whether it’s to stay focused during a crunch or just because there’s too much background noise, it’s important to make sure you’re listening at a safe volume.
Approximately 22 million employees are around hazardous noise annually, and 10 million people are exposed to solvents, another danger. It isn’t known how many people experience ototoxic chemical exposure, but it’s always good to remain aware.