Listen up, residents of New Jersey and the United States, because workplace hearing loss is a very real and very serious problem in this country. If you experience ringing or buzzing in your ears, or if you struggle to hear and understand your family members, friends and colleagues when they speak to you, you may be among those suffering from the nation’s most common workplace injury: hearing loss.
When you think about dangerous jobs, you may picture people working on rooftops, in trees or on water, for example, but numerous other professions place workers at risk of hearing loss. According to USA Today, about 22 million working Americans undergo exposure to hazardous levels of noise every year, and the groups most likely to suffer work-related hearing loss may surprise you.
How work environment factors in
Contrary to what you may think, American workers who face the highest risk of suffering work-related hearing loss are those who work in moderately loud environments, as opposed to extremely loud ones. Why? In work settings where extremely high levels of noise are typical, companies tend to be stricter about making their workers wear ear protection. Similarly, employees who regularly work in environments where there is no question about the risk of damaging their ears are more likely to consistently don ear protection and otherwise take steps to protect themselves.
In environments that do not have such obvious noise risks, such as offices where the lawn is being cut outside or buildings located close to high-traffic and high noise areas, workers may be less likely to wear protection, and employers may be less likely to consistently mandate that their workers do so. Therefore, workers in moderately loud environments face an elevated risk of workplace-related hearing loss, and employers who operate in moderately loud environments need to enforce stricter protective measures to keep their workers safe.
If you have concerns about the noise hazards you face in your workplace, make sure someone hears them. There may be more you can do to protect yourself before it becomes too late.