Nearly 30 million Americans are exposed to dangerous levels of noise in the workplace, and occupational hearing loss affects large numbers of Washington workers across a variety of workplaces. Sometimes permanent hearing loss occurs all at once from a single, isolated incident (such as a worker being in close proximity to a loud explosion). More often, though, workers experience gradual and progressive hearing diminishment from repeated exposure to high noise levels in the workplace.
Acoustic trauma can manifest as a loss of hearing range or hearing level, and in more serious cases workers can suffer from severe permanent nerve damage. Oftentimes a worker will not know they have an impaired ability to detect normal levels of sound until their condition is quite serious and damage is irreversible.
Are you exposed to dangerous levels of noise in your work place?
A number of factors can cause inner ear damage, such as the pitch, level, and length of exposure to noise. The quality of ear protection like headsets or ear plugs—as well as the consistency of using them—also effects rates of workplace hearing loss. Repeated exposure to only 85 decibels of sound is enough to damage a person’s hearing. This comes as alarming news to many workers, since the average power tool emits about 100 decibels, and 120 decibels of sound is enough to cause permanent hearing loss after only a couple hours of exposure. A worker without ear protection standing next to someone using a nail gun is bombarded with up to 140-170 decibels – enough noise to result in immediate, permanent inner-ear damage.
If you sometimes need to shout at your worksite in order for another party to hear you, or if you have to strain to hear some standing nearby who’s talking at a normal level, it is likely that noise levels at your job are causing hearing loss.
Common Warning Signs of Occupational Hearing Loss
Workers exposed to intense noise at work should watch for these indications of potential hearing loss:
- distorted, muted or muffled sounds
- decreased ability to hear high-pitched sounds
- roaring or ringing effects in one or both ears
- trouble understanding others when they are talking at a normal conversational level
Washington Hearing Loss Attorneys
Hearing loss can impact almost every dimension of someone’s life. Washington workers whose are experiencing impaired hearing or permanent hearing loss due to occupational noise levels may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Emery Reddy’s Washington Workers Compensation attorneys have successfully litigated a large number of hearing-related cases for workers with L&I claims and appeals. Please contact our firm today for a free consultation on your workplace injury.