The Dangers of Noise in the Workplace

Pursuing Compensation for Workplace Hearing Loss

worker holding foam earplugsWhen many Michigan residents think about workplace accidents, they may initially think about falls and equipment malfunctions. However, accidents also include hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) from excessive noise.

What Causes Occupational Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss in the workplace can be caused by several things:

  • Exposure to hazardous levels of noise (85 decibels or higher)
  • Exposure to ototoxic chemicals (including solvents, metal and compounds, asphyxiants, nitriles, and certain pharmaceuticals)

Facts About Workplace Hearing Loss

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.

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.

Side Effects of Hearing Loss In the Workplace

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.

How Are You Compensated for Hearing Loss?

You may be able to receive workers' compensation for hearing loss if your injuries were suffered on the job. The actual benefits you may be entitled to will depend on the severity of your hearing loss. If you are unable to work you may be eligible for wage loss benefits. Workers' comp should also cover expenses for necessary medical treatment, hearing aids, and other hearing assist devices.

Hearing Loss Prevention

Some employees may choose to prevent hearing loss by seeking jobs in quieter environments. Prevention practices in the workplace may also help preserve hearing; these practices include things like:

  • Taking breaks from noisy activity
  • Reducing the noise coming from equipment by keeping it well-maintained or muffling the sound
  • Reducing the amount of time employees must spend in noisy areas
  • Wearing hearing protection and wearing it properly

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.

If you have suffered hearing loss at work and are interested in pursuing a hearing loss workers' compensation claim, our work injury attorneys can help! Call Adler Firm, PLLC today at (888) 966-9524 for a free consultation.