A recent study done in Canada suggests that there may be a link between hearing loss and workplace injuries. The study reviewed records for over 45,000 male workers, over the course of 20 years. Of this group, 1670 had received hearing tests. The study found that workers with hearing loss were more likely to become injured at work. For every decibel of hearing loss, the risk of injury requiring hospitalization increased about 1 percent. Workers who were regularly exposed to the loudest noises — over 100 decibels — were twice as likely to incur an injury that required hospitalization, than workers who had no hearing loss and no significant noise exposure. Even exposure to less-severe noise levels showed some correlation with increased risk of injury.
The researchers theorized that high noise levels tended to increase fatigue, decrease concentration, and impair the ability of co-workers to communicate in hazardous work environments. These factors appear to lead to an increased risk of serious workplace injuries.
Of course, not all hearing loss is caused by noise exposure. Workers may have hearing loss do to age, genetics, previous noise exposure, or other factors.
If your work environment involves loud noise, please be sure to use the appropriate level of hearing protection. Talk to your employer about any concerns you have about your hearing, noise exposure, and safety in your workplace. And feel free to contact our office for a hearing screening test to determine if you already have hearing loss.