Hearing loss is tragically common in the workplace. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 21,000 American workers suffer a significant level of hearing loss each year due to job conditions. The onset of hearing loss can be sudden or deceptively slow, as Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers are aware. Many workers are forced to change jobs or retire after their hearing is damaged.
Case study #1: Sam
Sam is employed in a factory that produces precision metal parts. After working in the factory for nine years, he has been promoted to an important supervisory position, overseeing the final stages of the manufacturing process. He spends an average of six hours each day on the factory floor, inspecting precision machinery and interacting with workers. Noise levels on the floor reach up to 95 decibels on a regular basis. Sam has recently noticed a sharp decline in his hearing. He is no longer able to follow conversations during work meetings, and he finds it difficult to hear his wife and children at the dinner table.
Case study #2: Alex
Alex is 42 years old. He has worked for more than a decade as a baggage handler at a major American airport. He prides himself on his excellent physical condition and his consistently good job performance. He did not start wearing ear protection until it was made mandatory during his fourth year on the job. Exposure to the noise of jet engines and other machinery has made him lose more than 70 percent of his hearing. He is unsure of his options as a worker with profound hearing loss.
Signs of hearing damage on the job
Many employees like Sam and Alex are at risk of hearing loss on the job. Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers know that the following symptoms should never be ignored:
- Humming or ringing in the ears
- Total or partial inability to follow a conversation
- Temporary hearing loss after periods of duty
A worker who experiences any of these signs should report them at once.
Workers with hearing damage have options
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 125,000 workers have permanently lost their hearing in the past decade. Illinois employees with hearing loss do not have to suffer in silence. Further damage can often be prevented by safety measures.
Workers who have been exposed to dangerous levels of noise on the job have options. It may be useful for them to speak with Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers.