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The workplace and hearing loss

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2023 | Workers' Compensation |

Certain occupations pose more risk to workers than others. One of the common illnesses associated with certain jobs is hearing loss.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that this illness is one of the most common ones related to work, and it results in various consequences. Although excessive noise is a common reason, certain chemicals can also lead to hearing loss.

Causes of hearing loss

Noise levels over 85 decibels are the main causes of hearing loss. Common sources include machinery, crowds, music and tools.

Exposure to certain chemicals can also lead to hearing loss, even if there is little to no noise exposure. These chemicals include solvents, pesticides, lead, mercury and pharmaceuticals that contain ototoxicants.

Signs that the workplace may pose hearing loss risk

If you work in a place where noise or toxic chemicals are prevalent, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration discusses some signs that you may be suffering from hearing loss:

  • You need to shout to at work, even when the recipient is close by
  • You lose hearing temporarily after leaving work
  • You experience humming or ringing in the ears upon leaving the workplace

Effects of noise and chemical exposure

One of the biggest effects of long-term noise or chemical exposure is permanent hearing loss, which is untreatable via medication or surgery. Even partial hearing loss makes it difficult to communicate with others. This can significantly affect one’s quality of life, and there are economic consequences as well.

To reduce chemical exposure, employers should replace toxic chemicals with safer ones when possible. When this is not possible, there should be proper ventilation, enclosures and isolation. Workers should also wear chemical-protective arm sleeves, gloves and aprons to reduce exposure to the skin.

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