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Hearing loss is America’s most common workplace injury

If you work in the mining or construction fields, or in any other industry where loud levels of noise are par for the course, be aware that your profession places you at risk for America’s most common workplace injury: hearing loss.

Hearing loss can prove relatively minor and require little more than a hearing aid or similar device, or it can prove quite serious to the point that it affects your overall quality of life.

Your employer has a duty to protect you against hearing loss to the fullest extent possible, with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) serving as the governing body responsible for issuing guidelines related to occupational noise.

Who is at the greatest risk?

You assume a heightened level of risk if you work in construction, mining or other fields where jackhammers, saws and other loud tools and machines are part of your day-to-day life.

Additionally, one study indicated that you may actually face a higher risk of hearing loss if you work in an environment where noise levels are moderate as opposed to severe. This may be due to the fact that workers in environments where the noise level is particularly loud are more likely to take safety precautions than those in environments where they perceive the threat to be lower. Workers in extremely noisy environments are more likely to don protective headphones and take other actions to minimize the danger.

The high cost of hearing loss

Just how much is hearing loss costing American employers? The U.S. Department of Labor reports that employers spend about $242 million every year on workers’ compensation costs relating to occupational hearing loss and that roughly 22 million Americans work in environments where they are exposed to dangerous levels of noise every year.

While some employers are trying to implement new technology to reduce these figures, others aren't. Taking additional safety measures to prevent hearing loss can prove quite expensive for many companies, which limits the number of them attempting to do so.

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