How can one protect against occupational hearing loss?

Work-induced hearing loss can have devastating consequences—from relationship problems to on-the-job safety risks. Get the latest from an expert who says it doesn’t have to happen.

occupational-hearing-loss1Occupational hearing loss is the most common work-related illness. It is also permanent, says National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) epidemiologist Elizabeth Masterson. “Hearing loss can have a profound impact on quality of life,” she explains. The effects begin small and progress as hearing loss worsens. Relationships and interactions with coworkers and supervisors can suffer. Individuals lose sources of enjoyment like music or the sound of a child’s voice.

Safety can be compromised as well if hearing loss makes employees less able to detect the sound of oncoming equipment or experience a general loss of situational awareness. Masterson adds, “It is also well known that workers with hearing loss are more likely to get injured on the job.” All of these challenges can affect one’s mental health as well.

The good news is that “no worker needs to lose years of good health because his or her hearing was damaged on the job.” Masterson emphasizes that occupational hearing loss can be entirely prevented with today’s prevention strategies and technology.

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