How to Prevent or Manage Hearing Loss In the Workplace

Hearing Loss In The Workplace

Hearing loss in the workplace could be more common than you think. While there has been a steady increase in desk-type jobs due to technology-related careers in recent years, there are still a wide variety of occupations where daily exposure to loud noise is a common occurrence.

How Loud Is Too Loud?

What one person considers to be ‘too loud’ could be totally different than the next. According to NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, however, ‘too loud’ equates to being exposed to sounds above 85 decibels over 8 continuous hours.

This perfectly describes workplace conditions for people such as musicians, building contractors, construction workers, and more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 40 million Americans have noise-induced hearing loss. While not all of these cases can be attributed to occupational noise hazards, it’s still a good idea to learn how hearing loss in the workplace can be prevented or managed.

Hearing Loss In the Workplace: Prevention

Studies have shown that when employees work with untreated hearing loss, their overall productivity suffers. Living with hearing loss can affect employees’ health in multiple ways. And, employers can feel the pinch in their bottom line as workplace productivity decreases.

Here are some ways employers can work to prevent hearing loss in the workplace so that everyone benefits:

  • Hearing protection – If exposure to loud noise is unavoidable, provide staff members with appropriate hearing protection.
  • Install noise buffers – When possible, surround noisy machinery with material that muffles sound to healthier levels.
  • Support – Encourage early hearing loss diagnosis and treatment and offer corporate health plans that support hearing healthcare.

Hearing Loss In the Workplace: Management and Accommodations

We’ve talked about what happens when employees are exposed to loud noises on a daily basis for multiple hours per day. But what happens if you already have hearing loss that was caused by something else?

For individuals who already have hearing loss, there are steps you can take to make hearing loss in the workplace something that doesn’t interfere with your job satisfaction or productivity.

How to Manage Hearing Loss In the Workplace

  • Be open about your hearing loss. If your boss or coworkers don’t already know that you’re hard of hearing, tell them! It’s nothing to be ashamed of. And, if others know that you don’t hear well, they’ll usually be more than willing to communicate with you in a way that works for you.
  • Get hearing loss treatment. Living with untreated hearing loss hurts you and those around you. If you suspect you have hearing loss, get your hearing tested. Even a mild loss can affect your day to day activities and mar your productivity at work. An audiologist or other hearing professional will be able to accurately diagnose your hearing loss and prescribe appropriate treatment.
  • Ask for adjustments to your work area. There are plenty of reasonable accommodations that your employer can make to help you hear better and even increase your effectiveness at work. Perhaps your work area can be moved to a quieter area of the building. Or, maybe a telephone that’s Hearing Aid Compatible (HAC) will help you answer phone calls and communicate more effectively. Neither of these options cost a lot of money. They may even save your employer money if your productivity increases as a result of these simple workplace modifications.
  • Wear appropriate hearing protection. It’s important to remember that even if you’ve already lost part of your hearing, that doesn’t mean you can’t lose more. That’s why hearing loss prevention still applies to you. If your work or recreation repeatedly exposes you to loud noises, wear hearing protection as needed to prevent further hearing damage.

Monitor Hearing Health on a Regular Basis

Whether you’ve already experienced hearing loss in the workplace or you’re trying to prevent it, your hearing health should be monitored at regular intervals. Just like a yearly physical with your primary care doctor can help catch or prevent some illnesses, periodic hearing testing can help identify hearing changes early.

At Advanced Hearing Group, our Mesa and Scottsdale audiologists are committed to helping you hear better, whether that’s at work, at home, or anywhere else. Schedule an appointment with us today to manage your hearing health, get a hearing test, learn more about hearing loss, or receive hearing loss treatment.

Learn More about Advanced Hearing Group

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