Workplace injuries aren't limited to painful neck or back injuries or carpal tunnel syndrome. There are injuries that can accumulate over time and be invisible to the naked eye. One of these is hearing loss.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 22 million workers are exposed a level of noise in the workplace that has the potential to lead to permanent damage. To minimize hearing loss, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Heath (NIOSH) has recommended that for an eight-hour workday, noise levels should not rise above 85 dBA, which is the equivalent amount of noise you would hear coming from a freight train at 100 feet away.
Unless you carry around a professional sound meter, it can be hard to know if your workplace complies with this noise threshold. There are some ways you can tell by yourself, however, if your workplace may too loud. For example:
- If you hear humming or ringing in your ears when you leave work
- If you have temporary hearing loss when you leave work
- If you have to shout to be heard by a co-worker who is an arm's length away
Workers' compensation applies to hearing loss injuries just as it does to any obvious physical setbacks like a broken wrist or a burn injury. According to OSHA, hearing loss costs the workers' compensation system $242 million annually. If you believe you may have suffered hearing loss from working at your job, workers' compensation can help you access the help you need, which could include a hearing aid or hearing protection to prevent further damage on the job.