Hearing damage is one of the biggest workplace health issues in Pennsylvania and the U.S., according to a Philadelphia news radio medical report. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that hearing loss is among the most common work-related illnesses, with approximately 22 million workers being exposed to hazardous noise and 10 million exposed to hearing-damaging solvents each year.
Workers at Risk for Hearing Damage
Workers in any industry may suffer occupational hearing damage, however certain industries are more hazardous than others. Those who work in the mining, construction, health care, and social assistance industry sectors may be at increased risk for hearing damage. There are two main types of hearing damage a worker may experience:
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
Loud sounds in a worker’s environment may cause them to suffer noise-induced hearing loss. The damage may be noticeable immediately or take time to develop. Hearing loss may occur from a one-time exposure to an impulse sound, such as an explosion or from exposure to loud noise over an extended period. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) cautions that sounds at or above 85 A-weighted decibels (dBA) are loud enough to cause hearing damage.
Generally, the louder the sound, the shorter amount of time it takes for a worker to suffer noise-induced hearing loss. According to a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study, occupational noise exposure can also cause tinnitus, a condition characterized by an intermittent or continuous ringing in the ears.
Hearing Loss and Other Damage Caused by Ototoxicants
Workers do not necessarily need to be exposed to noise in the workplace to develop hearing damage; they may also suffer hearing loss if they are exposed to ototoxicants. Ototoxicants are included in certain types of chemicals, such as pesticides, solvents, and pharmaceuticals. Those who inhale, ingest, or absorb ototoxicants through the skin may experience hearing loss or suffer effects of damage to their auditory system, such as sound distortion and inability to differentiate or localize sounds.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that certain industries are more likely to use ototoxicants, such as the manufacturing, mining, utilities, construction, and agriculture industries. Painters, construction workers, firefighters, and pesticide sprayers are among those at high risk for both high noise and ototoxicants exposure.
Preventing Hearing Damage in the Workplace
The CDC and OSHA emphasize the importance of preventing work-related hearing damage. Employers must follow all applicable Occupational Safety and Health Act standards and safeguard workers against injury by:
- Identifying hazardous noise/ototoxicants in the workplace
- Giving workers health and safety information
- Training workers who are exposed to hazardous noises or chemicals
- Providing workers with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Workers Obtain Benefits for Occupational Hearing Damage
If your hearing loss was caused by your work environment, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our attorneys are experienced in handling occupational hearing loss claims and can help you obtain the maximum benefits available in your case. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.
Located in Philadelphia, Bensalem, Lansdowne, and Reading, we represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.