The workplace can be dangerous. From hazardous chemicals to heavy objects and dizzying heights, there are numerous safety challenges to overcome to keep all employees healthy and secure. Despite our efforts though, one of the most common workplace injuries continues to linger right under our noses — or, in this case, our ears.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, workplace-related hearing loss is the most common workplace injury in the United States. Each year, the CDC states, about 22 million American workers are exposed to potentially dangerous levels of occupational noise. As far as OSHA is concerned, an acceptable limit for work noise exposure is 90 A-weighted decibels throughout an eight-hour day. For reference, the CDC estimates an average hand drill creates about 98 decibels of noise.
Monetarily, the noise issue can be deafening — the U.S. Department of Labor believes employers across the country spend an annual $242 million on worker’s compensation claims related to workplace-related hearing loss. In 2015 alone, businesses paid more than $1.5 million in fines after being cited for providing inadequate protection to employees in noisy environments. People affected by this kind of hearing loss may find the normal sounds of the world both dulled and replaced by a constant ringing. For many, the damage to their hearing can be debilitating and isolating, causing both personal and professional issues.
Luckily, hearing loss isn’t a foregone conclusion. While some workplaces will always be noisy, we can take measures to block out potentially damaging decibels. By instituting policies that protect your workers’ hearing, you’re also helping to protect your own bottom line.