We live in a world that seems to be getting louder and louder, and the sounds are everywhere, including where we work. Hearing impairment is the second most common self-reported workplace injury, and it has been a national health concern for 25 years due to it’s permanent, damaging effects, and the fact that it is highly preventable.
The Most Common Workplace Injuries
Noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) are the most common type of workplace hearing impairments reported, but the effects go far beyond your ears. Along with diminished hearing comes psychological stress, other physical issues and reduced productivity. The four loudest occupations are:
One out of nine health complaints reported by workers in the manufacturing sector is noise-induced hearing loss. This isn’t a surprise given the loud machinery often found in manufacturing, and though hearing protection is mandated, not everyone uses it, or uses it correctly.
Amongst the general population, 9 percent of men will have hearing impairment by the age of 50. But among miners, that number jumps to 49 percent, and by the age of 60, it jumps dramatically to 70%. The loud sounds in confined spaces make mining dangerous for hearing that is left unprotected.
Though new technology has made farm equipment quieter over the past few years, the machinery is still loud, and hearing protection must be worn. Tractors can make noise up to 112 decibels, and even pigs squealing can reach 115 decibels – for each pig!
Bombs, low-flying aircraft and gunshots make people in the military particularly susceptible to occupational hearing impairment. Often misdiagnosed as part of post-traumatic stress disorder in service personnel returning from war zones, hearing impairment is the most common physical injury suffered by those in the military.
Protect Your Hearing
It is important for people who work in these, and many other jobs where they are exposed to loud sounds for long periods of time, to take special precautions to protect their hearing.
- Workers can wear custom-molded earplugs or sound-cancelling headphones
- Noisy machines can be operated during smaller shifts
- The decibels workers are exposed to should be monitored and limited as much as possible
- Machinery and tools should be lubricated and well-maintained to decrease noise
If you or a loved one works in a loud environment, call one of our experienced audiologists today to get your hearing tested, and consults with our audiologists about the best way to protect your hearing on the job.