Latest posts by Dr. Jason Leyendecker (see all)
- Getting Your Hearing Checked - January 22, 2020
- Talking about Hearing Loss: Why Your Disclosure Method Matters - December 27, 2019
- All About Tinnitus - December 19, 2019
Hearing loss affects millions of people throughout the world. Losing your hearing is more attributable to genetics, aging, illnesses, and damage to the eardrums that quite often involve loud noises. There three main types of hearing loss issues:
i. Conductive hearing loss – Reduction in hearing. Most cases are temporary and are treated with hearing aids, surgery, or implants.
ii. Sensorineural hearing loss – permanent loss of hearing commonly caused by aging, diseases, and loud noises. Many individuals can partially be helped through hearing aids, surgery, and implants
iii. Mixed hearing loss – this is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Treatments can include surgery, implants, and advanced hearing aids
The CDC reports that more than 22 million workers are exposed to loud noises that affect our hearing. Occupations where hearing loss is most likely to occur if you don’t protect your hearing include the following:
o airport/helicopter groundwork with loud revving engines
o musical industry stage work especially loud live stage performances
o construction/mining industry where explosives and noisy equipment is used
o factories where noisy equipment is used daily
o firefighters work in environments with loud sirens, power tools, and fire explosions
landscaping work involves loud machinery and tools
Also, nearly 60% of U.S. military men and women who return home are suffering from hearing loss due to their exposure to daily gunfire, explosions, and more. Hearing loss, due to the type of occupation you are employed in is a very common type of injury.
OSHA has established regulations for workplace risks in hearing loss cases. Understanding the causes of hearing loss, where we work, can help implement necessary steps to help avoid occupational hearing loss in our workers.
When the sounds around us are too loud, it can damage the inner ear hair cells that are responsible for translating sound waves vibrations into auditory signals. Auditory signals are then sent to the brain where it is adapted into what we hear. The damage to our inner ear cells from loud sounds around us is only helped by hearing aid devices and other treatments can help restore hearing to a minimum rather than deafness.
OSHA regulations require employers to implement a hearing conservation program when noise exposure is higher than their sound-level meter requirements which are above 85 decibels during an 8-hour time period. Further, OSHA regulations require that employers must implement practical noise controls to prevent occupational hearing loss by providing hearing protection devices.
Hearing loss is not a disability that can keep anyone with the required work aptitude from being hired. The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) stresses that each person who is either deaf or has a hearing issue deserves the right to work and contribute to society.
The ADA’s motto is that persons with hearing damage can work successfully on the job. Thus, they should not be denied work opportunities because of assumptions about hearing loss that is untrue. A few employers believe that the hearing impaired will cause workplace safety hazards that would cost them part of their bottom line.
Some employers also believe that the hearing impaired would slow labor production due to the lack of communicating quickly. However, with the right accommodations, individuals with hearing impairments are effective and safe workers.
Regular loud working environments where you are exposed to high decibel sound levels can impair hearing if ear protection measures are not taken. Technology has greatly improved how individuals with hearing loss issues can work 9 to 5 very effectively.
There are several factors that can help people with hearing loss where they work to communicate with coworkers and employers. Specific changes to how they perform their tasks can help. Additional work-related technology that may help include the following:
o Bluetooth hearing aids for better amplification and directional signaling
o Cochlear implants
o Realtime captioning
o Visual alerts
o Induction loop amplifier
o Computer Assisted Real-Time (CART)transcription technology
o Portable devices that allow the hearing impaired and coworkers to type messages back and forth.
o Video-captioned telephones that employs a screen to type each caller’s conversation
Thanks to the federal and state organizations that help the disabled, preventative actions are taking place in loud occupations. Employers are being trained in hearing safety devices like improved earmuffs or earplugs that are customized to fit each worker’s ear canal.