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How common is occupational hearing loss?

Hearing loss is the most common work-related injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One of the reasons for this might be that an estimated 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work each year.

If you believe you may be suffering occupational hearing loss, read on to learn more about how hearing loss is caused, what it may feel like and whether you may eligible to receive workers’ compensation for treatment.

Hazardous noise

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set limits on noise exposure that only permit employers to allows eight hours of exposure to 90 decibels of sound on the A scale (dBA) and two hours of exposure to 100 dBA.

However, OSHA recommends that workers are only exposed to volumes that are 85 dBA for eight hours. A normal conversation is 60 decibels.

Symptoms of hearing loss

If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from hearing damage, watch out for the following common symptoms:

  • Ringing in the ears
  • Pressure or pain in the inner ear
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Trouble hearing a 60 decibel level of sound

Miners, construction workers and manufacturing workers are the most likely to suffer noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) from work. However, there are many ways to prevent hearing loss, such as wearing ear plugs or noise-canceling headphones.

Treatment

Employees working in noisy environments can be subject to short-term hearing issues, like ringing in the ears, or permanent effects, like tinnitus or hearing loss. The extent of the injury depends either on how loud or how continuous the noise was.

Some individuals may be eligible for new treatments for hearing injuries, but standard treatments include a cochlear implant, hearing aid or bone-anchored hearing aid. Those who suffer from permanent hearing loss may not be able to reverse the effects of the injury with surgery or a hearing aid.

Workers’ comp

You can file a workers’ compensation claim for loss of hearing up to three months from the date you were removed from the harmful noise in the workplace or up to three months after leaving the job that caused exposure to the harmful noise.

Otherwise, you may file for workers’ compensation within ninety days of discovering that the hearing loss is related to your occupation.

If you believe you or someone you know may suffer from occupational hearing loss, seek medical attention and inform your employer. Hearing loss can easily lead to workplace accidents and injuries.

Your next course of action is to seek workers’ compensation by contacting an attorney. An estimated $242 million is spent on worker's compensation annually for hearing loss disability, according to the Department of Labor. You may be eligible to receive coverage for lost wages, medical treatment and more.

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