While you likely think of accidents at work in terms of physical injuries, like falls or burns, it is equally important to consider the impact of workplace environments on your senses. One important area often overlooked is the impact on your hearing. A surprising number of jobs expose workers to conditions that can lead to significant, and often permanent, hearing loss.
Understanding the causes of workplace-induced hearing loss can help you take precautions to protect your hearing. The first step is identifying which workplace accidents or conditions are most likely to contribute to this problem.
Exposure to loud noise
Prolonged exposure to loud noise ranks as one of the most common causes of hearing loss in the workplace. According to the CDC, as many as 16% of workers who work in loud environments have some level of hearing impairment.
Jobs that involve working with heavy machinery, construction equipment or vehicles like aircraft often expose workers to high levels of noise. Without adequate ear protection, workers in these fields risk developing noise-induced hearing loss over time.
Some workplaces involve handling certain ototoxic chemicals, substances that can damage your hearing. These chemicals can enter the bloodstream and damage the inner ear or auditory nerve, leading to hearing loss. Industries like manufacturing, mining and agriculture often require workers to handle such chemicals.
Explosions and blast injuries
An unexpected explosion or blast in the workplace can lead to a sudden, severe loss of hearing. This type of hearing loss, known as acoustic trauma, can occur in industries like construction, mining or any job involving explosives.
A head injury at work, whether due to a fall, getting hit by an object or any other accident, can also result in hearing loss. This type of injury can damage the delicate structures within the ear, leading to temporary or even permanent hearing loss.
To adequately protect your hearing, it is important for you to be aware of these risks and take the necessary safety measures. After all, prevention is always better than cure, especially when it comes to your senses.