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5 things you should know about work-related hearing loss

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hearing loss is the most common work-related illness in the United States. Millions of workers across the nation are exposed to seriously high levels of noise in their every day jobs, which can lead to conditions such as tinnitus or total hearing loss.

Although your employer should be aware of these dangers and is responsible for training you on how to avoid hearing loss in the workplace, we realize that not all employers are as up-to-date on current safety regulations, which may leave employees at risk of a work-related injury. That's why, in this week's post, we wanted to highlight five things that our Ohio readers should know about occupational hearing loss.

1.) Occupational hearing loss may be more common than you think. Did you know that 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels while at work? Exposure to noise levels 85 dBA or higher for longer than eight hours can lead to serious damage to the inner ear -- damage that may never be reversed.

2.) Workers' compensation pays out roughly $242 million each year in disability benefits to workers who have lost their hearing because of noise exposure. In just about all cases, hearing loss can be prevented with the right protective equipment and training.

3.) Occupational hearing loss is most often reported by people who work in the manufacturing industry. That's because, in many manufacturing jobs, workers are exposed to loud machinery on a regular basis. Constant exposure to this noise can be quite damaging and may not be realized until months or even years down the road.

4.) Hearing loss is 100 percent preventable if the right steps are taken. Everything from the use of earplugs to installing acoustic barriers can all help reduce the likelihood of occupational hearing loss.

5.) Employers and employees alike should be aware of the dangers of high noise levels and should actively seek safer techniques to ensure hearing protection. Failing to do so may be costly and not just in a monetary manner.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention," Accessed Sept. 2, 2014

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