Exposure to loud noises and ototoxic chemicals are the most common causes of occupational hearing loss, or hearing loss that occurs at work. Understanding what can cause this type of hearing loss as well as ways to work with hearing loss are key to a successful treatment plan.
Causes of Occupational hearing Loss
According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), noise and ototoxic chemical exposure are the main causes of occupational hearing loss.
Sounds are measured in decibels (dB). Anything over 85 dB can cause permanent damage to your ears. Noise is considered hazardous at a work site if it reaches 85 dB or higher or if a person has to raise their voice in order to speak to someone three feet away.
Ototoxic chemicals can permanently damage your ears. These chemicals include various solvents, metals and compounds, nitriles, asphyxiants and pharmaceuticals.
Approximately 22 million Americans workers are exposed to hazardous noise each year and 10 million workers are exposed to ototoxic solvents.
Working with Hearing Loss
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers within the U.S. are obligated to provide an equal opportunity workplace; this includes making accommodations and providing assistive listening devices to help those with hearing loss communicate better while at work.
This is often left up to you to determine what help you need in order to perform your best. Speaking with your coworkers is a good first step and gives you an opportunity to let them know the best way of communicating with you.
- Push for email or chat communication rather than a phone or Zoom call
- Remind others to speak clearly toward their microphones when leading a virtual or in-person meeting
- Request a private office rather than a cubicle in open layout, as it can be hard to hear over the background noise
Assistive Listening Devices
There are a number of devices on the market that work with or without hearing aids. Some of the most popular include:
- Captioned telephones
- Personal microphones
- Hand-held amplifiers
To learn more about how to succeed at work with hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with a hearing professional, contact Eastern Oklahoma ENT.