Exposure to excessively loud noises over an extended time has the potential to cause permanent damage to your hearing if you don’t take the proper steps to protect yourself. This is especially true in a workplace situation.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports every year at least 20,000 people experience hearing loss due to the noise level(s) at their job. Moreover, with the prevalence of exposure to high noise levels in the workplace (roughly 30 million exposed), the safety of worker’s hearing is one of the most common workplace hazards.
What constitutes harmful noise?
Noise is just sound until it reaches over certain decibel levels (or dB). As the sound(s) you’re exposed to get to unsafe levels, you will start to experience a ringing in your ears. This continued ringing will eventually lead to hearing loss if you do not eliminate the source of the sound. What makes this kind of hearing loss so important to avoid is once the damage is done, you cannot regain your hearing with aids or surgery.
What levels are acceptable?
For 8 hours of work, OSHA has set a limit of 90 decibels of exposure. As the decibel number goes up, your exposure goes down—for every 5 extra decibels, your exposure should be cut in half. For those who are visual thinkers, 90 dB can range from the noise a vacuum cleaner makes to an industrial truck.
While OSHA’s idea of reducing working hours to limit exposure is good in theory, reducing shift times isn’t always possible. It’s the employer’s responsibility to attempt to keep noise exposure down—at very least providing quality headphones to reduce noise. Failure on your employer’s part to limit your exposure is setting the stage for a work injury or even sanctions from state and federal regulators.
Read Excessive Noise in the Workplace – How it Affects You and What You Can Do for a chart on decibel levels and what you can do to protect yourself from this common problem.
If your hearing loss is due to the noise of your job, you should consider filing a work injury claim. Babcock Law Firm, Denver’s premier worker’s comp attorneys, can help determine if you have a case. Contact us to schedule an appointment.