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New England Job Safety Watch: Preventing Occupational Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is one of the most common injuries sustained while on the job. When an employee is exposed to significant levels of noise, employers must make sure to take precautions to prevent hearing damage. Employers, companies and regulators will often consult with healthcare professionals who know how to best treat and prevent injuries.

A recent article suggests that Occupational Hazard nurses play a critical role in helping prevent workplace injuries, including hearing damage. Occupational Hazard safety experts and managers are available to help guide employers and regulators to help implement noise control policies, protocols, and procedures. Workers who suffer from hearing loss because of job related duties are entitled to collect compensation for any temporary or permanent injury they suffer. Our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys are experienced with employer responsibility and in helping victims recover after a workplace injury.

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It is widely known that exposure to noise can cause hearing damage. Workers may suffer hearing damage from a few instances of over-exposure or a lifetime of long-term exposure to excessive noise. Workers who are in industrial settings, including factories or construction work are at the greatest risk of hearing damage. There are other industries that pose a risk, including the entertainment industry, such as employment at concerts, clubs, or in restaurants. New research suggests that the use of personal hearing devices, including iPods and iPhones or MP3 players can also cause permanent hearing damage over time.

Hearing loss caused by occupational exposure has been studied and acknowledged since the 18th century. Later studies found that there was a very direct correlation between work and occupational noise-induced hearing loss (ONIHL). Since the dangers of hearing loss have been uncovered by scientific research, additional studies have tried to identify what measurements of sound produce the greatest damage.

Current regulations passed under the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 require that employers protect the hearing of their employees. The law states that employers must professionally assess the noise hazards in the work space and provide necessary equipment and information to workers to help them avoid exposures at high noise levels. There are some noise levels that are so severe that workers are not allowed to be exposed at all.

An Occupational Hazard nurse can help assist as part of a collaborative effort to identify and manage noise in the workplace. By taking the time to understand a specific industry, an OH nurse can also work with employers, individuals, and other specialists to develop procedures, control measures, and equipment to prevent noise exposure. Since employers have a legal duty to understand the exposure faced by employees, they will also benefit from collaborating with noise experts who can help identify and address excessive noise in the workplace.

Occupational deafness is a disease recognized under the disability benefit system. Any victim of noise exposure who suffers from permanent hearing damage is entitled to workers’ compensation. If you or someone you love is suffering from partial or total hearing loss, it is important to seek medical treatment and diagnosis as soon as possible. Time is of the essence and filing an immediate workers’ compensation claim is also an important step to recovering the benefits you deserve.

If you have suffered occupational hearing loss in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation claim– 1-888-367-2900.

More Blog Entries:
Legislation Would Boost Boston Workplace Protections, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, April 20, 2013
Low Wage Workers Deserve a Safe Work Environment, April 12, 2013, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog