Hearing loss on the job is a serious problem for millions of Americans, many of whom do not realize that the damage is being done until it is too late. The costs add up for everyone involved, too – in 2015, U.S. businesses paid out penalties of more than $1.5 million because of not protecting workers from damaging noise. Beyond that, workers’ compensation benefits for hearing loss disabilities top $240 million each year across the country.
One of the reasons that hearing loss can be so devastating is that it is irreversible. One the damage has been done to nerve endings in the inner ear, that damage cannot be undone. It behooves both employees and employers to take the steps necessary to protect workers’ hearing, in great part because the solutions can be so simple, while the costs can be so great. A factory worker who is not supplied with sufficient hearing protection, which may cost the employer pennies per worker, may end up costing the employer many thousands of dollars. Likewise, a worker who does not take the initiative to request hearing protection that is appropriate to the job may be condemning themselves to a life of isolation and problematic communication, and in some cases limiting their employability later on.
The solutions for noisy workplaces are numerous, whether they are small-scale solutions such as in-ear hearing protection or compression headphones, or perhaps more large-scale engineering solutions that reduce the noise generated by large machinery. If your employer balks at the necessary cost of creating a safe workplace, do not be dissuaded from protecting yourself and others — hearing loss is often permanent and debilitating.
If you believe that you are working in an environment that is not hearing-safe, or if you believe that you may be suffering from work-related hearing loss, do not hesitate to reach out to a qualified, experienced lawyer who can ensure that your rights remain protected while you pursue fair compensation.
Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Occupational Noise Exposure,” accessed Sep. 28, 2016