There's no way around it, some workplaces are inherently noisy. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention, the noisiest industries include manufacturing, construction, mining and the military. All told, more than 22 million Americans work in environments where they're consistently exposed to hazardous levels of noise, and all of that damage can definitely take a toll, both for the employees as well as the businesses.
The Cost of Hearing Loss
Hearing problems are more common than many of us realize. In fact, the Hearing Loss Association of America estimates that nearly 50 million people in the United States have a significant degree of hearing loss. Of that number, roughly 60% are still in the workforce, and sadly, these individuals make about $20,000 less on average every single year that their hearing loss goes untreated. As a result, the U.S. government misses out on more than $15 billion in tax revenue as a result of hearing loss.
Certainly, all of those employees didn't incur their hearing loss as a direct result of their work environments, but many of them did. According to the Department of Labor, employers spend nearly $250 million a year on workers’ compensation related to hearing loss. Believe it or not, injuries related to hearing loss are the most common workplace complaints in the United States.
What Can Be Done
Given the costs associated with work-related hearing loss, surely something can be done about it. Thankfully, many employers have already put measures in place to curb hearing loss. In many noisy environments, employers make hearing protective devices, such as ear plugs or over-the-ear muffs, available to all of their employees. Additionally, signage is often posted warning employees about noise pollution. Also, device and machine manufacturers are being proactive as well, implementing noise-cancelling measures like insulating the inside of the cabs of construction equipment.
A lot of responsibility for stopping hearing loss falls on the shoulders of the employees as well. When employers provide protective devices, it's incumbent upon the workers to use them. Additionally, employees should take advantage of breaks by spending time in a relatively quiet environment to give their ears a rest. Moreover, people who work in noisy environments should schedule regular visits with an audiologist, so that their hearing can be tested and corrective measures and be implemented as soon as possible if loss is detected.
Even though noise in the workplace can't always be avoided, the negative effects on the employees can. As long as employers and their workers are aware of the dangers of noise pollution, they can take proactive steps to ensure that hearing loss doesn't cause an undue burden in the workplace.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!