Noise-related hearing loss has been one of the most prevalent workplace health concerns in Tennessee and across the U.S. for more than 25 years. Each day, thousands of workers across the state are exposed on the job to excessive noise levels that can cause permanent hearing loss. If you have to shout to be heard by a co-worker who is arm’s length away or hear ringing or humming in your ears when you leave work, these are warning signs of a workplace that has excessive noise levels.
Hearing loss is a life-altering injury, and if you or your loved one has suffered hearing loss as a result of workplace exposure to noise, you may be entitled to seek compensation. Employers have a responsibility to protect workers from high workplace noise levels and hearing loss injury.
Our experienced workplace Morristown personal injury lawyers at The Terry Law Firm have been assisting victims of work-related injuries, including hearing loss, for more than 50 years.
The damage caused by workplace noise depends mainly on how loud it is and how long it lasts. Federal and state laws set legal limits on exposure to noise in the workplace. The higher the noise level, the shorter the duration of exposure permitted.
Tennessee’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration Program requires employers to have a workplace hearing conservation program when workers are exposed to noise levels that meet or exceed 85 decibels averaged over eight hours. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that 15 percent of workers exposed to noise levels of 85 dBA or higher will develop hearing loss.
Exposure to high levels of noise or prolonged noise causes destruction of cells in the inner ear—cells that cannot be replaced. Prolonged noise may initially exhaust the inner ear, causing temporary hearing loss. With repeated exposure to high levels of noise, a worker’s inner ear may lose its ability to recover and the hearing loss become permanent.
Typically, workplace noise affects the ability to hear high-pitched sounds, and this causes words and sounds to be unclear or distorted. Men are more likely to be affected by workplace hearing loss. Neither surgery nor a hearing aid can correct this type of hearing loss, according to the OSHA.
Since there is no cure for permanent hearing loss, prevention of exposure to excessive workplace noise is critical. Manufacturers, utilities, and other employers have a legal duty to protect workers from hazardous noise levels by using noise controls on machinery and providing workers with ear protection. When employers fail to monitor noise levels properly and allow workers to be exposed to excessive noise levels, they may be liable for causing a worker’s hearing loss injury.
It’s important to consult an experienced legal team that understands exactly what steps federal and Tennessee occupational safety laws require employers to take to preserve workers’ hearing and prevent hearing loss. When employees disregard safeguards for hearing conservation and allow hearing loss, they should be held accountable for the permanent injury that workers suffer.
If you have been injured by workplace hearing loss, our Morristown personal injury lawyers will review your injury free of charge and advise you whether you have a valid claim against an employer. Call us at (423) 536-6220 to learn more.