For most people, the mention of “occupational injury” evokes images of slipping, falling or getting caught in machinery. But one of the most common workplace hazards cannot be seen or touched. It’s exposure to dangerous noise levels, which along with “ototoxic” chemicals, can result in hearing loss.
“Occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States,” says the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). During the course of a year, about 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels on the job, according to OSHA, and more than 30 million workers are exposed to chemicals, some of which are toxic to the ears and detrimental to hearing.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that one in four workers exposed to high levels of noise will develop hearing loss. Manufacturing accounts for 72% of work-related hearing losses — the most commonly recorded occupational illness in that sector, according to OSHA.
Hearing loss doesn’t just affect a person’s ability to communicate with other employees. Research shows it also can increase the risk of injury-causing accidents and falls. In addition, hearing-impaired workers may not hear alarms and other warning signals, potentially placing themselves and others in danger. There may be a personal financial impact, too. A Better Hearing Institute study involving 40,000 households found that people with untreated hearing loss sacrifice as much as $30,000 in annual income.
Use Safety & Health Week to stress prevention
Considering the magnitude of the problem, hearing loss prevention should be a top priority for companies. The good news is, noise-induced hearing loss is highly preventable, especially given the large and growing array of hearing protection solutions on the market today.
While hearing loss prevention knows no season, Amplifon Hearing Health Care encourages you to give it extra prominence during North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week, May 6-12, 2018. The goal of this week is to focus employers, employees, partners and the public on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home and in the community. Click here to learn more about NAOSH Week.
Even with a strong focus on prevention, a certain percentage of employees will continue to experience occupational hearing loss, and companies will continue to foot the bill for hearing-related workers’ compensation claims. For these individuals, the right hearing healthcare partner and program can help minimize costs related to workers’ comp claims, while ensuring that affected employees receive the highest possible level of care.
Click here to download a complimentary white paper, “A Guide to Choosing the Right Hearing Healthcare Program for Workers’ Compensation Claimants,” which includes eight critical benchmarks for evaluating potential partners.