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The dangers of noise in the workplace

When many Michigan residents think about workplace accidents, they may initially think about falls and equipment malfunctions. However, accidents also include hearing loss from excessive noise.

Employers are required to make sure that their workers are not exposed to high noise levels, either by providing protective equipment or monitoring the noise level. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that work environments are too loud if employees must yell to speak to nearby colleagues or if they experience tinnitus.

Hearing loss is more common than many people may realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people suffer from hearing impairment than from cancer. The ramifications can be severe, especially as employees reach retirement. People with poor hearing sometimes experience depression and poor communication abilities, as well as the inability to hear sounds below a certain volume. These ailments may cause people to lose healthy years in their retirement.

The amount of hearing loss employees incur depends on their field of employment. While only about 7 percent of emergency medical responders and law enforcement officers lose some range of hearing, 17 percent of miners are affected. Age can sometimes be a factor, with hearing impairment more likely to occur as employees age. Additionally, men are more likely to lose their hearing than women.

Some employees may choose to prevent hearing loss by seeking jobs in quieter environments. Prevention practices in the workplace may also help preserve hearing. Rehabilitation has been suggested when employees first notice their hearing beginning to decline. Hearing protection devices and yearly testing may help impairment to be caught early and possibly stopped.

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