Highlighting an Often Overlooked Workplace Danger: Hearing Loss
Fractures, concussions, and even toxic exposure to pesticides are all commonly known work-related injuries, but what about impairment of the senses? Hearing loss is more common than you might think. In fact, workers’ compensation claims total millions of dollars each year for hearing impairment caused by workplace hazards. Since it can be difficult to prove that hearing loss is indeed caused by conditions of the workplace, it’s highly advisable to consult a workers’ compensation attorney in San Jose if you’ve been experiencing the signs of hearing loss.
Signs and Symptoms
Your workers’ compensation attorney will ask you to begin carefully documenting your signs and symptoms. Some workers may experience temporary hearing loss, or ringing or humming in the ears at the end of the day. You might have to ask people to repeat themselves and you might find yourself constantly turning up the TV. Many people with hearing loss find that it’s especially difficult to distinguish between words of a conversation when there is background noise present.
Causes and Risk Factors
When hearing loss is a work-related injury, the cause is usually prolonged exposure to damaging levels of noise. Sometimes, hearing loss may be caused by physical trauma, such as a punctured eardrum or skull fracture. Noise-induced hearing loss is particularly common among agricultural workers. Skid-steer loaders, chainsaws, tractors, forage harvesters, and other equipment emit dangerous levels of noise that can irreversibly damage the delicate structures of the ear. Other high-risk professions in terms of hearing loss include construction workers, miners, manufacturing workers, military servicemembers, and nightclub staff members.
Responsible employers recognize the hazards that can cause workplace injuries and take steps to reduce these risks. One essential preventive measure is to provide all employees with personal protection equipment (PPE) such as earplugs and earmuffs. Employees should also be trained on how, why, and when to use these protective devices. Employers should carefully research new equipment before purchasing it. If given the choice between two similar products, employers should choose the low-noise tool. No individual worker should be required to stay within a dangerous noise level for too long. Ideally, workers should have access to a quiet area to get periodic relief.