Excessive Noise in the Workplace – How It Affects You and What You Can Do
While it may seem harmless in small bits, excessive noise over a long period of time can cause extensive hearing damage if there aren’t sufficient measures in place to protect against it.
Over 20,000 people per year suffer from hearing loss caused by excessive noise at their jobs according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since over 30 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to dangerous levels of noise each year, it is considered to be one of the most prevalent occupational hazards.
If you’ve suffered hearing loss due to excessive noise at your job, you should have grounds to file a workman’s comp claim.
Occupational diseases, or injuries, are different in that they occur over a period of time rather than from a specific incident. These conditions are covered under workman’s comp in Colorado and should be reported to your employer when you first determine the condition is being brought on by something at your job.
What is noise and how can it harm you?
Noise can be defined as “…fluctuations in the pressure of air which affect the human body.” Most noises like a conversation or radio are relatively harmless. But when noise gets above a certain decibel level (dB, or the convention used to measure a noise’s intensity), it can cause ringing in the ears and eventually hearing loss.
Unfortunately, hearing loss from excessive noise isn’t treatable through hearing aids and surgery.
Excessive noise can also cause other problems besides hearing loss – physical and psychological stress, reduced productivity, and difficulty understanding speech and hearing high frequency sounds are just a few. Many workers who suffer hearing loss due to excessive noise may find it difficult to enjoy a simple conversation or various social activities, leading to isolation and perhaps depression.
What’s an acceptable level of noise in the workplace?
There are in fact legal limits to how much noise you can be exposed to in a standard work day. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set this limit at 90 decibels in an 8-hour day. As the decibels increase though, the number of hours you can be exposed goes down. For every 5 decibels, the time is cut in half. Therefore, OSHA only recommends 2 hours of exposure at 100 decibels.
To put this into a real-world context, 90 decibels of noise falls between a vacuum cleaner and large industrial truck.
Shorter shifts are in fact not a feasible option most of the time. However, it is your employer’s responsibility to try and mitigate noise. They should at minimum provide you with headphones but in the end should construct engineering controls that reduce sound exposure levels.
But if your employer doesn’t take any precaution and you suffer hearing loss due to excessive noise in the workplace, you do have grounds for filing a workman’s comp claim in Colorado.
And if your employer is not taking any steps to protect workers’ hearing, they may be in violation of the law.
If you’ve suffered hearing loss due to excessive noise at work, don’t wait any longer to discuss it with your employer and file a workman’s comp claim. Denver workman’s comp attorneys at the Babcock Law Firm can help you determine if your hearing loss is covered or not. To learn more, contact our offices today to schedule an appointment.
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**NOTE – this article and all content at Injurylawcolorado.com is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice