Work-Related Hearing Loss

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Work related hearing loss affects thousands of workers in construction.

Work-related hearing loss is a growing issue in the United States, where hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition and ranks among the most common work-related illnesses. According to the CDC, over 11% of U.S. workers have hearing difficulty, and nearly 25% of worker hearing loss cases have been caused by work-related exposures.

Loud and potentially harmful (hazardous) noise on a work-site is gauged in one of two ways: noise is considered hazardous if it at any point, even if only for a fraction of a second, it reaches 85 decibels or higher, and it is also considered hazardous if one worker must raise his/her voice to speak with another person who is an arm's length (three feet) or less away from them. About 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise each year.

Hearing loss that is related to work may also be the result of exposure to chemicals which target and cause damage to the inner ear. These "ototoxic" chemicals include organic solvents (such as trichloroethylene), asphyxiants (such as carbon monoxide), and heavy metals (such as lead and mercury). Around 10 million workers are exposed to solvents, and an unknown number of workers are exposed to other ototoxic chemicals that can damage hearing every year.

Mining or construction sites and manufacturing factories are two of the workplace types most likely to have chemicals or loud noises that can cause hearing loss. Other hearing endangering environments include the military and logistics operations. However, almost every industry has workplace dangers when it comes to hearing and using hearing protection is advisable in any environment where exposure to loud or repetitive noises or strong chemicals is likely.

Specialized hearing protection can reduce loud noises and protect against chemicals, while allowing you to communicate via radio. With proper protection, you can reduce the risk of hearing loss in loud or chemically rich environments without compromising work performance. If you have work related hearing loss, you can utilize hearing aids combined with hearing protection to help minimize the effects of your hearing loss and prevent further hearing loss from occurring.

Work-related hearing loss is a growing issue in the United States, where hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition and ranks among the most common work-related illnesses.