Is Your Work Damaging Your Hearing?Jun 11, 2015
Each year, over 20 million US workers are exposed to noise that can temporarily or permanently damage their hearing, and another 10 million are exposed to chemicals and solvents that can lead to hearing loss. Are you or a loved one in danger of losing your hearing?
What Causes Occupational Hearing Loss?
There are two main causes of occupational hearing loss:
- Exposure to noise reaching 85 dB or higher for long periods of time.
to chemicals that can damage the ears or balance system. These
chemicals are called “Ototoxic Chemicals,” and include:
- Organic solvents (e.g. styrene)
- Heavy metals (e.g. lead, mercury)
- Asphyxiants (e.g. carbon monoxide)
Occupational hearing loss usually develops slowly over time, though one loud incident with unprotected ears can cause the sudden onset of hearing loss.
Who’s At Most Risk?
The highest risk of hearing loss occurs in the construction industry – a trend that hasn’t changed for many years. Mining, healthcare and military service are also strongly associated with higher incidences of hearing loss. The high rates have remained steady in these industries over the past several years.
OSHA and Hearing Loss
The Occupational Safety & Hearing Administration (OSHA) is the government body that oversees how noise is managed in work environments, and they have set the legal noise limit in the workplace to remain below 85 dB for eight hours in an effort to minimize hearing loss amongst employees.
In environments where workers are exposed to loud noises as part of their job, the OSHA requires employers to:
- Measure noise levels and ensure that they remain within legal limits
- Provide free annual hearing exams and free hearing protection
- Train employees to use appropriate hearing protection
What Can Be Done?
There are things that can be done to reduce the incidence of noise-induced hearing loss at the workplace. These include:
- Equipment Changes: Modify or replace equipment to make it quieter, or make changes to the area around the equipment so the noise that reaches the workers' ears is substantially lower than it is at the noise source.
- Reducing Exposure: Operating loud equipment when fewer people are on a shift, so less people are exposed to the noise, or limiting the amount of time one person works in a loud environment.
- Using Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs): Though reducing exposure to loud noise is the preferred option, when exposure to loud noise is inevitable, it is imperative that workers wear ear plugs or ear muffs to protect their hearing.
If you are exposed to loud noises at work, it is critical that you get your hearing tested at least once a year. Make sure you wear appropriate hearing protection at all times when you are around loud noise, and speak to your employer about ways in which you can better protect yourself and your co-workers from occupational hearing loss.
Are you (or a loved one) having difficulty hearing?
Schedule an appointment for a FREE Hearing Screening & Consultation*
- Find out if you have hearing loss and what you can do about it
- If you wear hearing aids, we'll check your prescription and adjust if necessary
- Hear ALL the sounds of life! Why wait another day?
Schedule Your Appointment Online
Or call (703) 962-6139
* Applicable to new patients 18 years of age or older.
5 convenient locations in the Washington, DC Metro Area:
VA: McLean ● Cascades ● Fairfax ● Falls Church ● MD: Rockville
We're DC Metro's highest rated audiology practice, with over 1,500 5-star reviews.
About Hearing Doctors
Personal Care & Custom Solutions
Our team of experienced, professional and caring audiologists uses the most advanced technology to diagnose and treat hearing loss and disorders. Our services include testing & diagnosis, expert hearing aid fitting, treatment for tinnitus (ringing in the ears), pediatric audiology services for children aged 3-18 years, hearing aid repairs, hearing protection and custom earmolds.
- About Our Practice
- Meet Our Team
- What Sets Us Apart
- Patient Testimonials
- What to Expect at Your Consultation