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Workplace injuries: Occupational hearing loss remains prevalent

Due to the prevalence of work-related hearing loss, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a study to determine whether the number of incidents shows a decline. Workplace injuries with relation to hearing loss was studied for thirty years from 1981 through 2010. The conclusion of the study shows declining numbers in some industries, but it was determined that construction, mining, and healthcare workers in California and other states remain at a high risk of suffering hearing loss.

An NIOSH director said effective workplace noise control and the level of protection it offers can directly impact the number of workers who are reporting a work-related hearing loss. As many as 22 million workers in the United States are exposed to workplace environments in which hazardous noise levels pose a threat. NIOSH said that exposed workers can suffer hearing loss that may be permanent and could be potentially debilitating.

Occupational hearing loss can occur when workers are exposed to long-term noise hazards or one or more instances of sudden and dangerously high levels of instantaneous noise. There are also chemicals -- called ototoxic chemicals -- that can lead to the loss of hearing in workers who are exposed to it. NIOSH underscored the fact that hearing loss in workers is entirely preventable.

California workers who suspect that their hearing loss may have been caused by the levels of noise in their work environments may be wise to consult with medical professionals to determine the cause of their workplace illness. Such consultations and subsequent medical treatment may be costly, but compensation for medical expenses related to any workplace injuries or illnesses forms part of the benefits offered by the workers' compensation insurance fund. To assist workers in proving that their injuries or illnesses are work-related, the services of experienced workers' compensation attorneys may be invaluable.

Source: safety.blr.com, "NIOSH study finds mining, construction, healthcare workers at risk for occupational hearing loss", June 27, 2015

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