There are many potential dangers an employee may face in her or his workplace. Some of these occupational hazards are less apparent than others. In fact, the most common occupational injury may go unnoticed by employers and employees alike. Hearing loss, often referred to as an “invisible disease,” has been reported as the most pervasive work-related hazard, affecting as many as 22 million workers. Considering the myriad of ways hearing loss can impact an individual’s overall health, the toll of occupational hearing impairment is expansive.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed regulations, stating “employers are required to measure noise levels; provide free annual hearing exams, hearing protection, and training; and conduct evaluations of the adequacy of the hearing protectors in use.” However, some hearing health advocates warn that these regulations do not provide enough protection for the employed. For example, these noise limits fail to consider sound exposure which may occur outside of the workplace—at bars, sporting events and restaurants, for example. This cumulative noise exposure could be much more harmful.
In spite of the regulations, many employees feel hearing conservation initiatives are not adequately enforced. Employers may provide insufficient hearing protection, fail to educate on the risks associated with hearing loss or overlook employees who chose not to wear protection.
When there is little desire to take preventive measures, both the employer and the employed suffer the consequences. It has been estimated that the annual compensation for hearing loss disability equals $242 million. Meanwhile, employees are left to endure a lifetime of hearing loss. Seeing as hearing loss has been linked to a number of other conditions—including anxiety, social withdrawal, cognitive decline and depression, this comes at a significant cost to the employed.
Studies have shown that, should management work together with their staff to address hearing loss, their organization is more likely to flourish. The research showed that when programs addressing hearing health were implemented, employee engagement was higher and absenteeism decreased. The use of hearing aids has also been shown to improve productivity. To find a provider of hearing aids in Tyler, Texas, contact our audiology department today!