According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (NIOSH), work-related hearing loss continues to be a serious workplace issue for safety and health. Noise-induced hearing loss is 100 percent preventable, but once it happens, hearing loss is permanent and irreversible. Employers and workers must take precautions to protect workers’ hearing.
One of the most common occupational diseases is hearing loss. High numbers of exposed workers in the following industries include:
The most effective way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is through controls, such as building an acoustic barrier or muffler in the workplace. Earplugs and earmuffs should be used when a safe level of noise cannot be attained otherwise.
This is not a new danger; it has always been a threat. Repeated exposures to loud noise can cause permanent, incurable hearing loss or tinnitus, (buzzing, ringing, or other sounds in ear caused by defect or damage to the auditory nerve). Employers need to provide hearing protectors in situations where dangerous exposures are not eliminated.
Worker education, along with employers’ assessments of noise situations, need to be consistently enforced.