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Noise-related hearing loss has been listed as one of the most prevalent occupational health concerns in the United States and remains a critical workplace health and safety issue. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), thousands of workers every year suffer from preventable hearing loss due to hazardous workplace noise levels.

Short term exposure to hazardous noise levels can cause a temporary change in hearing or a ringing in your ears, while excessive exposure to hazardous noise can cause permanent damage. Short-term problems may go away within a few minutes or hours after leaving the noisy area, but repeated exposures to toxic noise can lead to permanent tinnitus and/or hearing loss.

What is occupational noise induced hearing loss (NIHL)?

Occupational noise-induced hearing loss is caused by continuous exposure to hazardous noise levels in the workplace. It may cause difficulty understanding speech in noisy listening environments. The rate of hearing loss due to chronic exposure to hazardous noise is greatest during the first ten to fifteen years of exposure. Over a period of years of prolonged exposure, hearing loss due to noise expands to involve additional frequencies. The extent of damage depends primarily on noise intensity and duration of exposure. While any worker can be at risk for noise-induced hearing loss in the workplace, workers in many industries have higher exposures to dangerous levels of noise. Industries with high numbers of exposed workers include construction, manufacturing, utilities, transportation and petroleum.

Unfortunately, occupational noise-induced haring loss is often ignored or underrated because there are no visible effects. It develops gradually over a long period of time. Unfortunately, once noise-induced hearing loss is acquired, it is permanent and irreversible.

The ability to hear is undeniably a key quality-of-life issue. NIHL causes a progressive loss of the ability to communicate or socialize with family, friends and co-workers, as well as a loss of sensitivity and responsiveness to ones environment. When background noise is added to the equation, a person with noise-induced hearing loss can be completely cut off from communicating with others.

Is occupational NIHL compensable?

Occupational NIHL is preventable, unnecessary and may be a compensable personal injury in Louisiana. The Mumphrey Law Firm, LLC has been involved in occupational noise-induced hearing loss litigation for many years. For more information, contact us.

Relevant links:

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Occupational Safety & Health Administration - Occupational Noise Exposure


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