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Manufacturing workers and occupational hearing loss

Many manufacturing workers in Illinois are regularly exposed to conditions at their places of employment that could cause significant hearing loss. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that workers in manufacturing report suffering from occupational hearing loss more than any other occupational illness. In total, this accounts for nearly 10 percent of all OSHA-recordable illnesses.

Before an occupational hearing loss can be recordable by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the injured worker must have become hearing impaired. Although many workers suffer from measurable hearing loss, it usually takes years of exposure to unsafe decibel levels before the hearing becomes that damaged. In addition, the worker must also be able to prove that the hearing impairment is directly linked to the work conditions.

In the case of a traumatic exposure such as an explosion in the worker's proximity, this could cause a worker to lose a great deal of their hearing all at once. However, most workers lose their ability to hear gradually, and workers are usually not aware that the hearing loss is happening. The first 10 years of exposure to unsafe decibel levels is when most of a worker's hearing loss occurs. After 10 years, workers who are still being exposed to unsafe noise will begin to lose the ability to understand speech.

A person who has begun to notice that they are losing the ability to hear might want to talk to an attorney about their workplace injuries. If a worker's hearing loss can be attributed to work conditions, an attorney can be of assistance in filing a claim for workers' compensation benefits.

Source: National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, "Occupationally-Induced Hearing Loss ", accessed on Feb. 14, 2015

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