As South Carolina workers may know, noise protection while working is important to prevent hearing damage. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, hearing loss may occur when a worker is subject to repeated loud noises or even one powerful noise.
In some cases, hearing loss may be insidious and not be recognized for some time. It may affect a worker’s productivity or lead to mistakes or accidents in the workplace as they may gradually become unable to hear high-frequency noises or even speech at normal tones. This affects not just the work environment but a worker’s life.
Some symptoms of hearing loss are ringing in the ears, whether one ear or both, trouble hearing a phone ring and getting the impression that individuals are mumbling instead of speaking clearly. Tinnitus may occur without concomitant hearing loss. Noise at varying levels over a prolonged period of time may damage the small hair in the ear, called cilia. The cilia are in the inner ear and are damaged. The initial damage occurs to those cilia that react to high frequency noises. The process extends over time and may be permanent.
Workers’ compensation can cover not only workplace injuries but occupational diseases such as hearing loss. A construction worker who has suffered a loss of hearing as a result of repeated exposure to loud noises in the workplace may want to speak with an attorney to coordinate the filing of a claim for benefits under the employer’s workers’ compensation coverage. As the effects of hearing loss can be gradual and difficult to pinpoint to a specific time frame, legal assistance can be important.