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Listen to this

It's the sound no one really wants to hear: silence. Unfortunately, about 20 percent of Americans suffer some degree of hearing loss. While many of the losses are due to aging, there are also other causes of hearing loss that leave people with diminished capacity to not only enjoy life but to participate safely in life.

The Hearing Loss Association of America says on its website that continuous noise in the workplace can cause hearing loss over extended periods of time. However, even if your hearing is damaged by long-term workplace exposure to noise, it can be difficult to obtain Pennsylvania workers' compensation benefits that include medical care and wage replacement.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that people in certain industries are at "high risk for hearing loss," including those in construction, airport ground maintenance crews, farming and manufacturing.

The National Institutes of Health says "long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for NIHL to happen." A construction job can easily, repeatedly expose you to 90 dB of noise — that's the sound of a large truck just 5 yards away. The noise is significantly worse when you're three feet away from a jackhammer: 120 dB. An airport job can expose workers to 130 dB from a jet engine less than 100 feet away.

The Hearing Loss Association states loudly and clearly that hearing loss has a negative impact on a person's earning capacity. The worse a person's hearing gets, the more likely they are to make less money than peers and get passed over for promotions, especially in jobs that require finely tuned communication skills.

Pennsylvania workers dealing with hearing loss attributable to their jobs and workplaces should know that it can be a struggle to get a workers' compensation claim approved. You can discuss your circumstances with a Pittsburgh attorney with a track record of helping workers protect rights, interests and benefits.

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