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The risk of hearing loss among workers in manufacturing

The Manufacturing Sector has one of the biggest workforces in the country and consists of a various group of industries, including food, beverage, furniture, wood products, chemical manufacturers and transportation equipment. Among these many industries is a risk of hearing loss, and South Carolina manufacturing workers might want to be aware of this risk.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that occupational hearing loss is the most common occupational illness recorded in manufacturing. While more than 72 percent of all occupational hearing loss cases involve manufacturing workers, the illness accounts for one in nine occupational illness cases in manufacturing. About 13 percent of the nation's workforce works in manufacturing, which is about 16 million people.

For the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to record occupational hearing loss cases, the hearing loss has to be damaging enough for the worker to be labeled as hearing impaired, and the illness has to be determined as work-related. However, many other workers suffer from a measure of hearing loss without becoming hearing impaired.

Frequently, manufacturing workers do not know that they suffer from occupational hearing loss because it happens gradually. The growth of hearing loss is at its highest during the first decade of employment involving noise exposure, but continued exposure has the potential to cause problems with workers hearing the frequencies related to speech.

Manufacturing workers who believe they have suffered hearing loss because of noise exposure on the job could be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. The workers might be required to undergo exams to prove the hearing loss is work-related and that they have become hearing impaired. If the workers need help with filing a claim and navigating the process for seeking workers' compensation payments, they could contact the Workers' Compensation Commission or private attorneys.

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Anderson, SC 29621

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