May 5, 2017

CDC Research States Hearing Loss is Number 1 Workplace Injury

When thinking of
workers’ compensation claims, most people might imagine scenarios in which an unexpected accident leads
to a catastrophic worker injury. While these situations are certainly
harrowing and are the root of thousands of workers’ comp claims
each year in America, they are not the most common type of injury the
average employee may encounter. According to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) research, the number one worker injury in the country
is actually hearing loss.

The CDC estimates that more than 20 million American workers regularly
work in environments that have damaging levels of noise throughout the
day. Construction workers, employees in industrial settings, and miners
are the most likely to encounter workplace noises that register high on
the decibel scale. After only a brief time of employment, workers on such
career paths could already begin to experience a noticeable amount of
hearing loss, especially if a loud burst ruptures their eardrum and no
time is allowed to let it heal.

Department of Labor (DOL) statistics back up what the CDC has found in
its own studies. According to the DOL, nearly $250
million worth of workers’ compensation benefits are paid out every year
due to employees experiencing severe hearing loss or disability caused
by the pain of inner ear damage.

OSHA Regulations May Need Updating

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set standards
regarding what is and what is not to be considered a safe decibel level
for workers. For the most part, it concerns itself with the construction
industry, though, stating that spending a workday with near-constant 85
decibel sound levels may be hazardous and creating a 90-decibel hard cap
before ear protection must be provided. OSHA has been criticized, however,
for not applying its regulations to other industries that also encounter
loud noises regularly. Food service workers in particular often report
hearing loss due to the busy environment of the kitchen but OSHA inspections
for such workplaces rarely make an effort to record decibel levels.

Furthermore, a Stanford University study determined that high-noise environments
actually caused less cases of severe hearing loss than moderate-noise
environments. The cause of this strange misbalance in expected results
is that moderate-noise environments – once again, like a kitchen
– do not give hearing protection to employees, whereas high-noise
environments do. In this regard, hearing loss becomes a form of
repetitive stress injury, as it often accumulates damage over time rather than causing it all at
once or within a brief amount of time.

If you would like to know more about hearing loss in the workplace, California Healthline
posted an interesting article last year regarding this issue. You can
click here to read it in full. If you have experienced hearing loss at your workplace
and believe you deserve workers’ compensation benefits for it,
contact The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC and our Atlanta workers’
compensation attorneys today. With our legal representation and counsel
backed by an extensive history of positive
case results, you may be able to live comfortably again after experiencing painful,
debilitating, or permanent hearing loss at work.