Employees working in excessively loud or noisy environments may experience a loss of hearing resulting in permanent damage. As reported by the EHS Daily Advisor, certain companies must establish a hearing conservation program. Failing to do so could cause them to fall out of compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s laws.
When noise exposure levels reach an average of 85 decibels during an eight-hour shift, OSHA requires employers to implement injury prevention programs. Environments that may expose employees to excessive noise levels include construction zones, nursery schools and landscaping sites.
Hearing-conservation program requirements
OSHA requires companies to maintain records and logs of workplace noise levels. By conducting annual audiometric tests and regular workplace noise sampling, companies may reduce the risk of their employees incurring a debilitating hearing condition.
Companies must provide employees with hearing protection equipment when needed. This may include headphones, earplugs or noise-absorbing panels. Employers must also train employees in ways to prevent occupational hearing loss.
Signs and symptoms of hearing problems
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, permanent hearing loss occurs when surgery or a hearing device fails to correct an inability to perceive sound. Signs that a problem has begun to develop may include a ringing in the ears or a “stuffed-up” feeling inside the ears.
Prolonged exposure to loud noises may cause stress to both the body and mind. An affected employee may experience reduced productivity or an inability to communicate. When noise prevents a worker from carrying out his or her regular tasks, he or she may have developed an injury requiring medical treatment.
If an employee’s exposure to loud noise results in a serious condition such as tinnitus or hearing loss, it could become a long-term issue. Filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits may provide the financial assistance needed to obtain the required care and treatment.