Even in high-risk industries or jobs, workers often overlook the possibility of suffering occupational hearing loss. However, this physical condition commonly occurs due to workplace conditions and affects people’s professional and personal lives.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, occupational exposures account for approximately 24% of the hearing difficulties faced by workers in Minnesota and throughout the U.S.
Noise and chemical exposure in the workplace sometimes lead to hearing problems for workers. Noise reaches a hazardous level at 85 decibels, when it may have damaging effects on the ear’s interior structures. Exposure to some ototoxic chemicals, including certain solvents, asphyxiants and pharmaceuticals causes hearing loss, makes people more susceptible to hazardous noise or both.
According to Medlineplus.gov, the symptoms most associated with work-related hearing loss include partial or total loss of hearing. Additionally, some people also develop tinnitus, or a ringing in the ear. Often, the hearing problems people experience due to workplace exposures are permanent.
Treatment of occupational hearing loss typically has three aims – prevent further hearing loss, improve communication and develop condition-management skills. This may include using earmuffs or earplugs to limit further exposure to hazardous noise levels and using a hearing aid to better understand others’ speech and their surroundings. Workers with occupational hearing loss may also learn techniques to help them better navigate and understand their surroundings.
If they suffer occupational hearing loss, people often have entitlement to workers’ compensation. Therefore, they may consider their options, including filing for such benefits, to obtain the support they need and deserve.