Ensuring worker safety has become a core value among businesses today. Yet one source of workplace harm gets overlooked in many cases: noise. Excessively loud work environments can lead to both short- and long-term hearing problems. For instance, according to one British study, men who spend 10 or more years in a noisy workplace are more than 3.8 times more likely to develop severe hearing difficulties.
Unfortunately, despite an increasing awareness, many people still don’t recognize the severity of this threat. Whether you are a business owner, employee, or health professional, if you would like to learn more about the risks posed by excessive noise, keep reading. This article outlines three key things to know about workplace hearing loss, and why you should get regular hearing evaluations.
1. Workplace Hearing Loss Disproportionately Affects Men
Men and women face much different chances of developing hearing loss. In fact, a 2008 study by Johns Hopkins University found that men are five times more likely to suffer hearing loss than women. This significant variance doesn’t have anything to do with physical differences between men and women, however.
Rather, it reflects differences between common work environments. Men are far more likely to work in environments that include regular exposure to noise levels considered damaging or extreme. Industries such as agriculture, construction, carpentry, mining, and the military all come with significant risks, often as the result of noise generated by workplace machinery.
2. Always Take Precautions to Protect Your Hearing
Those who work in noise-prone environments must be proactive about protecting their hearing. Numerous strategies exist for reducing the decibel level of dangerous noise. Disposable earplugs offer a quick and cost-effective solution. Likewise, earmuffs offer a convenient solution. Both types can reduce noise levels by as much as 30 decibels.
3. Hearing Loss Takes Many Different Forms
Because hearing loss occurs gradually, often over the course of years, it can be difficult to register the fact that changes are taking place. Many people simply assume that their hearing is naturally degrading, rather than being affected by their workplace environment. Once you have identified that your workplace may put you at risk, be vigilant about patrolling yourself for these common signs of hearing loss:
- speech and other sounds seem muffled
- struggling to understand words in noisy environments
- difficulty hearing consonants
- asking others to repeat phrases more loudly
- turning up the volume of televisions and radios
Even if you haven’t noticed any such symptoms, it’s a good idea to receive regular hearing evaluations. For more information, please contact the tinnitus and hearing loss experts at Physicians Hearing Care.
Dr. Kalyn Bradford is the Director of Hearing Aid Services here at Physician’s Hearing Care. She completed her externship with Physician’s Hearing Care in 2013 and subsequently joined the practice in 2014 after graduating with her doctoral degree in audiology from Louisiana Tech University. She joined PHC as a Clinical Audiologist where she performed comprehensive audiological exams and specialized in helping patients to hear better using the latest hearing aid technology available. She has carried that experience into her current role as Director of Hearing Aid Services, where she does an excellent job managing the Audiologists to ensure that all patients are treated with the best hearing care possible.