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What is Occupational Hearing Loss?

by | Feb 6, 2019 | Occupational Diseases, Occupational Hearing Loss

The ability to hear should not be underestimated. Even though it’s not as serious as going blind, it still leads to a loss of enjoyment and quality of life. Going deaf for example, due to one’s job can mean not hearing your child or grandchild’s laughter. Not hearing the sound of your spouse or loved one’s voice. And never hearing the beautiful sound of music again.

Occupational hearing loss refers to when workers lose their hearing due to exposure to loud noise on the job. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. Each year, about 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work. Over 30 million U.S. workers are exposed to chemicals, some of which are harmful to the ear (ototoxic) and hazardous to hearing.”


The CDC isn’t the only organization spreading awareness about occupational hearing loss. The United States Department of Labor also reports that 22 million workers every year are exposed to dangerous levels of noise. “Last year, U.S. businesses paid more than $1.5 million in penalties for not protecting workers from noise.” So, is there a problem? We certainly think so.

Here’s what workers need to know:

  • Noise-induced hearing loss makes it hard for people to understand speech, which severely affects a person’s ability to communicate properly.
  • When someone is exposed to loud noise, it can kill the nerve endings in their inner ear. Ultimately with repeated exposure, it can kill nerve endings and cause permanent hearing loss that can never be corrected by medication or surgery.

Certain jobs carry a high risk of occupational hearing loss compared to others. These jobs include: farming, construction, airline ground maintenance, jobs that involve loud music, jobs involving loud machinery, and military jobs that involve aircrafts or combat.