Ototoxicants are chemicals that have been identified by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) as causing hearing loss and balance issues when inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or ingested. They are found in some pesticides, solvents, medications, and other chemicals found workplaces. And, according to OSHA, their negative effect on a person’s hearing increases when workers are also exposed to elevated noise levels.
Hearing loss in the workplace is a serious consequence of workers being exposed to damaging noise levels. Consider these statistics:
- An air compressor, from 3 feet away, registers 92 decibels, which would cause hearing loss in less than 2 hours.
- A power drill registers 98 decibels, which would cause hearing damage in about a half hour.
- Power saws can reach an excruciating 110 decibels. To a worker within 3 feet of this noise, permanent hearing loss can occur in under 2 minutes.
- Working on the floor of a factory, workers are exposed to upwards of 100 decibels of noise. Hearing loss can set in after only 15 minutes in this environment.
Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007 S.R. No. 54/2007 Authorized Version states that “an employer must ensure that no employee at the workplace is exposed to noise that exceeds the noise exposure standard ….” So just how can an employer adhere to that regulation? And are there suggestions an employee who is at risk of sustaining too much noise exposure can make to their employer to ensure a safe environment?
Can an employee claim hearing loss as a “disability?” According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), there are circumstances that allow a person to be eligible for disability benefits without having to meet or match a “disability rating” covered in the SSA Blue Book. To decide if someone with hearing loss can still competently perform their duties, or the duties of any other job in the workforce, The SSA considers several factors. These include the person’s age, educational background, and vocational history.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has official limits on the decibel level American workers can be exposed to during an 8-hour shift. OSHA's permissible exposure limit is 90 A-weighted decibels (dBA) over 8 hours. However, the organization also states that for every 5 dBA increased, the amount of time the worker can be exposed reduces by 50 percent.
Those who haven’t lived it can only imagine how difficult work must be for someone with severe hearing impairment. Whether you’re sitting in a desk all day, standing behind a counter, or operating heavy machinery, hearing is essential to any job.
When it comes to hearing health in the workplace, it’s crucial to be in the know about the latest news and research. To help you cut through the clutter, we’ve compiled a short list of some of the biggest stories related to workplace hearing health over the past few months. Check them out below!
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), millions of workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year. While we tend to think of the health repercussions of hearing loss first, as we should, there are also negative financial effects to consider, particularly in the workplace.
Many professions come with risks and hazards, whether you’re a police officer, firefighter, truck driver, or even an office worker. And while some risks are less serious than others – think Carpal Tunnel – none of the aforementioned careers made our list of top jobs that contribute most to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL).
The Center for Disease Control estimates that 22 million Americans are prone to hearing damage because of workplace noise. In many cases, that continual exposure, whether you get used to it or not, can lead to permanent hearing loss. And while genetics and old age both play a role in hearing loss, it’s the kind of repetitive noises we experience 40 hours a week that often contribute to NIHL.
These Tips Can Help People In Very Noisy Workplaces
Do you have any idea how many people occupational hearing specialists for American workplaces can help?