Did you know that hearing loss is one of the most common workplace injuries? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 22 million workers face excessive noise. The Department of Labor says that roughly $242 million in workers’ compensation benefits are linked to hearing-related claims. Some of the working places that expose workers to too much noise include construction, mining and manufacturing industries.
Some businesses that have excessive noise provide protective devices or require workers to follow hearing safety rules. In what may seem as an ironic twist, people who are exposed to less noise are often the ones who are experiencing a higher risk for hearing loss. This is because places with moderate noise may overlook the need for hearing protection.
Hearing conservation programs are not always sufficient to protect workers
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has created rules to protect against occupational hearing loss. However, some critics say that the rules are not up to date. Moreover, the critics say that the relevant decibel levels that trigger protection in the rules are set far too high to properly protect workers.
Agencies and work safety professionals agree that employers should develop or introduce a hearing conservation program for their employees. These programs involve training for employees on how to protect themselves from excessive noise and other relates issues.
However, these programs are often viewed by employers as being too costly, especially in environments with noise levels that seem moderate to the business. Unfortunately for workers, the loss or impairment of such an important thing as the ability to hear can have a real impact on everyday life – on the job, as well as after hours.
If you are suffering from hearing loss due to noisy conditions in the workplace, you should know that you may have legal options. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you to understand your options and whether you may qualify for benefits.