Noise-induced hearing loss is a common occupational disease but it's not often discussed. In fact, it may often be overlooked or attributed to the normal signs of aging.
The reality is that approximately 30 million workers in the United States are regularly exposed to noise levels that are above the limits considered safe for human hearing. Those within certain industries, particularly mining and construction, face up to six times the likelihood to experience hearing loss by the time they are 50 years old than those who aren't exposed to the same levels of chronic noise.
Additionally, those at the most risk of permanent hearing loss are often the least protected. Construction workers, for example, spend an average of 70 percent of their time exposed to loud noises or engaged in noisy activities—whether working with drills and other loud equipment or simply working alongside heavy machinery—but they only wear protection for their ears around 30 percent of the time.
Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable, but it is often so slow to develop that it isn't seriously addressed as a safety concern by management. Workers may not be provided with the proper equipment to protect their hearing. If they are, they may not be required to wear the protection or informed of the risk of hearing loss if they don't. Those who develop noise-induced hearing loss, however, are stuck with an irreversible and life-altering condition.
Hearing loss can affect the quality of your life, interfering with your ability to engage in daily conversations, enjoy music or watch a movie with ease. It can also become a safety issue that limits your life. You may become unable to clearly hear what a coworker is saying and unable to detect high-pitched warning signals from vehicles that are backing up in your work area.
In addition, diagnosis and treatment is often expensive, with a quality hearing aids costing thousands of dollars—and they are often not covered by insurance.
If you've developed noise-induced hearing loss due to workplace exposure, consider contacting an attorney to discuss the possibility of recovering for your injuries. For more information on how we approach the issue of workplace injuries and diseases, please visit our page.