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Work-related accident claims involving noise exposure


When many New Yorkers think of workplace accidents and workers' compensation cases, they may immediately think of back injuries, machinery accidents and chemical-related injuries. However, exposure to loud noises is a common, but not much-talked-about, concern. Occupational hearing loss has actually been a major concern for more than two decades. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports more than 20,000 work-related accident claims annually. If you are concerned about loud noise in the workplace, here are some worker safety guidelines to consider.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the noise limit is 90 decibels. This is equivalent to the noise produced by a heavy truck throughout an eight-hour day. Noise issues may be short-term or long-term. You may feel stuffiness or ringing in your ears temporarily. However, long-term exposure to loud noises can cause permanent hearing loss - and this condition cannot be remedied with a hearing aid or surgery.

If you work in a warehouse or manufacturing plant or on a construction site, you are likely exposed to noisy conditions on a daily basis. In addition, if you have to shout to a co-worker just a few feet away or experience hearing loss, humming or ringing in your ears when you leave work, then your workplace is likely too loud.

Employers must put controls in place to keep workplace noise within OSHA limits. Hearing protection devices such as earplugs and earmuffs offer some protection, but more must be done to protect the hearing of employees. Some ways to control noise in the workplace include operating machinery at non-peak hours, keeping employees away from noisy machinery and allowing workers adequate quiet time in a soundproof room. Hearing is an important function and without it, a person's personal and professional lives can be hampered.


Source: United States Department of Labor, "Occupational Noise Exposure," accessed Oct. 10, 2014

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