Excessive noise in any workplace is harmful. Most industrial machines and equipment produce high levels of noise. Regardless of the industry in which you earn your living, noise might threaten your hearing. Noise pollution occurs on construction sites, manufacturing plants, mining sites and many other work environments. According to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, any sound that exceeds 85 decibels is harmful.
While exposure to high levels of noise over an extended period can cause progressive damage that might only be detected when it is too late, sudden loud noises like explosions can cause immediate damage that might be permanent. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to excessive noise could also disrupt your sleep patterns and cause high blood pressure.
How can you protect your hearing?
Although Cal/OSHA requires your employer to protect your health and safety, you can also take precautions to protect your hearing. The following are the steps you can expect your employer to take:
- Education: You are entitled to be informed about all the potential hazards in your workplace. This includes information about the harm noise pollution can cause.
- Hearing tests: Your employer should offer regular hearing tests to workers affected by excessive noise. If your job causes severe harm to your hearing, you could ask for a transfer to a different department with less noise pollution.
- Measure noise level: Safety authorities mandate proper noise control, and your employer must monitor the decibel levels by frequent measuring. Levels above 85 decibels are harmful and require administrative and engineering controls to protect workers.
- Hearing protection: Your boss must provide proper ear protection and educate you on the appropriate use of it. It might also be a good idea to rotate workers to limit exposure to noise because the longer the periods of exposure, the more harmful it is.
- Equipment condition: Equipment that is in good working order will produce less noise. As machines age, their noise levels increase, and although proper maintenance might help for some time, it will become necessary to replace old equipment to maintain non-harmful noise levels.
Although the California workers' compensation insurance system covers the medical expenses related to hearing loss, proving that your job caused it might be challenging. The process could be particularly difficult if the damage to your hearing occurred gradually over years of exposure. This is where the skills of an experienced workers' compensation attorney come in. A lawyer can take over and fight for the compensation that you deserve.