For most adults in America, working is a necessary part of everyday life. If you are one of the many who enjoy their career, that’s great! One thing to consider, however, is what else your job is giving you besides a paycheck and a sense of personal achievement. Depending on where you work, you could also be getting something else … occupational hearing loss.
Hearing loss in the workplace
According to the Hearing Health Foundation, occupational hearing loss is more prevalent than you might think. Here are some startling statistics they compiled:
- Approximately 30 million U.S. employees are exposed to sounds at their workplace that are loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss.
- Greater than 20,000 workplace-related hearing loss cases are reported every year. Sadly, many of these are cases of irreversible hearing damage.
- Of all the individuals in the U.S. with hearing loss, approximately 24% have hearing damage that can be attributed to excess noise exposure at work.
How to cope with occupational hearing loss
If you’re included in the statistics mentioned above and you already have hearing loss due to your job, it’s obviously too late to prevent it. There are some measures you can take, however, to make the situation easier and also prevent further hearing damage.
- Reveal your hearing loss to your employer and co-workers.
If you let others know about your hearing difficulty, they can learn effective ways to communicate with you.
- Ask for reasonable accommodations.
There may be some modifications that your employer can make to your current position to make things easier. For example, if your hearing loss makes it difficult to answer the phone as your job requires, your work area could be moved or adjusted to improve your productivity.
- Make sure you have the right telephone.
If your job requires the use of a desk telephone or a cell phone, make sure it’s compatible with your hearing aids.
- Request appropriate hearing protection.
If your job still requires exposure to loud noise even after reasonable accommodations have been made, you should wear hearing protection to help prevent further hearing damage. It’s worth the investment even if your employer doesn’t provide it for you.
- Become your own best advocate.
While employers do generally care about their employees’ health and wellness, they may not go out of their way to find out what their employees need. After all, additional expenses will affect their bottom line. Learn to advocate for yourself and ask for what you need. As long as it’s reasonable, most employers are happy to do what it takes to keep their staff productive in the workplace.
Get professional help
Whether you have occupational hearing loss or hearing damage caused by something else, it’s important to get professional treatment. An audiologist can perform a thorough hearing evaluation, determine the cause and severity of hearing loss, and recommend appropriate treatment. Schedule an appointment today so you can be on your way to better hearing!
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