About 48 million people in Pennsylvania and around the country suffer from hearing loss, and many of them developed problems with their hearing after being exposed to loud noises in the workplace. Work-related hearing loss is the most commonly reported on-the-job injury according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has stated that more than 20 million Americans work in environments that could permanently damage their hearing.
Manufacturing and construction
Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards require employers to provide workers with ear protection when they are exposed to noises louder than 85 decibels for prolonged periods. This is about as loud as a window air conditioner or power lawn mower. OSHA set its standard because the symptoms of hearing loss often develop over time and cannot be reversed. The problem is something that all employers should be aware of, but it is an especially serious concern in the manufacturing and construction sectors. Most manufacturing and construction workers use or work in close proximity to machines that exceed the OSHA noise standard, and there are often several of them operating at the same time. This is why hearing loss is the occupational injury most often reported by manufacturing workers.
Hearing allows the brain to detect dangers before they become visible, which can be extremely useful in dangerous situations. Losing this ability to sense danger makes workers who develop hearing loss more likely to be injured in workplace accidents. To prevent these accidents and reduce the number of workers’ compensation claims, OSHA has mandated that employers institute hearing conservation programs when workers are routinely exposed to loud noises. These programs usually include routine sound monitoring, regular audiograms for at-risk workers and training on the dangers of hearing loss and the importance of using ear protection.
Workers’ compensation benefits
Workers’ compensation claims are sometimes challenged by employers or denied by insurance companies when the medical condition involved is irreversible and other workers could be affected. If you have been denied workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania, you only have 20 days to file an appeal. An attorney with experience in this area could file a Notice of Appeal with the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board within the time allowed and advocate on your behalf during a WCAB hearing.