If you work in the construction or automotive industries, or in any other field where loud noises are commonplace, you should know that your profession places you at risk of suffering from what has now become America’s most common workplace injury: hearing loss.
According to California Healthline, about 22 million American workers face exposure to occupational noise levels that can cause ear problems, accounting for about $242 million in workers’ compensation costs nationally each year. Just how high your risk of suffering work-related hearing loss is varies based on factors such as the extent of your exposure and the industry you work in.
Risk factors for work-related hearing loss
In addition to the construction and automotive industries, you run a higher risk of suffering on-the-job hearing loss if you work in manufacturing or mining. Furthermore, contrary to what you might think, you are more likely to experience hearing loss if you work in an environment where noise levels are moderate, rather than severe.
This is because workers in settings where loud noises are obvious and commonplace are more likely to take precautions against hearing loss, such as donning ear plugs or headphones. Workers in settings where the noise level is more moderate, however, may not feel the same need to protect themselves. Additionally, their employers may feel less inclined to enact strong safety standards relating to hearing loss, despite the fact that risks still exist in moderately loud environments.
Reducing your risk
Among the actions you can take to reduce your risk of occupational hearing loss is to don protective gear consistently, even when noise levels do not seem particularly severe. Your employer, too, has a duty to protect you against hearing loss as much as possible. This might involve making sure you are aware of any risks and educating you about how to take proper precautions to protect your ears while on the job.
Occupational hearing loss can impact the rest of your life, meaning you can suffer negative effects long after you leave your profession or retire. Prevention and protection are your best bet for staying safe and preserving your hearing.