When most people think about work-related injuries and health conditions, they often think about accidents or exposure to dangerous substances. However, many people may not think about the risk to their hearing caused by workplace conditions. What should workers know about work-related hearing loss?
How common are conditions that contribute to hearing loss?
Exposure to loud noises throughout the day is a significant contributor to hearing loss, and many workers are at risk. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) estimates that 30 million workers in the United States work in environments with noise levels that could cause permanent hearing loss. As a result, over 20,000 people experience work-related hearing loss each year.
In addition, exposure to solvents and other chemicals can lead to conditions that put workers’ hearing at risk. Each year, around 10 million American workers are exposed to solvents in the workplace that could damage their hearing.
What can people do if they experience work-related hearing loss?
Hearing loss can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to perform their work and pursue their career. People with untreated hearing loss often earn significantly less than other workers and experience higher rates of unemployment. This can impact a worker’s ability to support themselves and their family as well as limit their future career prospects.
Thankfully, workers’ compensation benefits can offer support to workers who experience hearing loss. These benefits can offset the impact of lost wages, provide compensation for permanent hearing loss and offer financial support for medical care.