Imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t hear the doorbell or telephone ring, or the sound of your children’s voices.
Again, imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t hear approaching footsteps or the sound of passing traffic.
Not everyone has to imagine. Hearing loss caused by workplace noise hazards is one of the most common work related health issues across all industries.
Noise & Hearing Damage
The human ear contains an organ called the cochlea, inside of which are millions of tiny hair cells. These hair cells detect sound pressure entering the ear but are delicate and extremely sensitive to high levels of noise.
Noise can be described as unwanted or dangerous sound. Its intensity is measured in decibels (dB). Average exposure of more than 80 dB each day can cause irreversible damage to the hair cells in the ear. Even short exposure to high noise levels can cause irreversible damage. Nobody should ever be exposed to more than 140 dB for any time whatsoever.
Hearing damage can include:
- Varying degrees of hearing loss
- Total deafness
- Tinnitus (a constant ringing or whooshing sound in the ear)
For most people, the hearing damage caused by workplace noise hazards is gradual and gets slowly worse the more you’re exposed. Because it happens gradually, you may be completely unaware that you are losing your hearing until it has become very severe.
Protecting Your Hearing from Workplace Noise Hazards
To protect workers from workplace noise hazards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established complex regulations by which virtually every industry must comply in order to control noise levels in the workplace and manage them proactively.
Some manufacturing processes can generate noise levels of 95 dB or more. In the textile industry, for example, processes such as weaving can be particularly noisy.
Similarly, production machinery in other industries, such as engineering, woodworking, paper mills, and plastics can also produce noise levels above 95 dB.
95 dB is actually ten times higher than the 85 dB level for which OSHA requires hearing protection to be provided and used.
Limit your exposure to noise, or protect your ears properly and you can prevent hearing loss, or at least stop whatever hearing loss you have already suffered from getting worse.
Workers’ Compensation For Hearing Damage Caused by Workplace Noise Hazards
If you suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus due to workplace noise hazards, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits including, medical treatment, free hearing aids, and monetary compensation.
Many workers are completely unaware that hearing loss is a compensable work-related injury under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act. But, work-related hearing loss is covered by workers’ compensation just like any other work-related injury.
However, hearing loss claims are very specific and will require the expertise of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help explore issues regarding how you developed hearing loss.
So, if you believe that you have suffered damage to your hearing because of noise in your workplace, contact an experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorney to evaluate your case and assist you in filing a claim with your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance provider.