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Hearing loss America’s most common workplace injury

When you work in an industry known to be dangerous, such as logging, fishing or manufacturing, you probably exercise care when performing certain duties to reduce your risk of injury. Today’s most common workplace injury is not what you may expect, however, and it is one that can impact workers who hold logging, fishing or manufacturing jobs as well as those working in many other fields: hearing loss.

USA Today reports that hearing loss is now America’s most common work-related injury and that the problem is so prevalent nowadays that the nation’s employers pay about $242 million annually in hearing loss-related workers’ compensation costs. Furthermore, more than 22 million American workers undergo exposure to potentially hazardous levels of noise every year. Unless workers and employers take more steps to protect themselves, these figures will likely continue to rise.

Who is at risk?

Those who work in certain industries are more likely to experience work-related hearing loss than those employed in others, although workers across numerous industries face at least some degree of risk. However, your risk of suffering hearing loss related to your profession is highest if you work as a miner, construction worker or manufacturer, because all these fields typically expose you to consistently high levels of noise.

However, while these industries may be the riskiest when it comes to work-related hearing loss, you actually run a higher risk of experiencing on-the-job hearing loss if you work in a moderately loud, rather than extremely loud, environment. Why? In unquestionably loud settings, workers are more consistent about donning ear protection, and their employers, too, are typically stricter about making sure workers follow safety protocols. In moderately loud environments, however, employees and employers may underestimate the noise risk, making them less likely to follow safety protocols and otherwise make efforts to protect themselves.

If you have concerns about the level of noise in your work environment, talk to your boss about making additional efforts to protect employees.

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