While many professions in Oklahoma can involve significant exposure to loud noises, one of the most serious and complicated settings is the construction site. Construction workers who operate loud equipment might be able to use earplugs or muffs to protect themselves from permanent damage. However, some situations can be more dangerous when such equipment is used due to the need to hear verbal cues from other workers or equipment. Although OSHA indicates that workers can protect themselves to avoid permanent hearing loss, the reality for some may be that protective gear for the ears increases the danger.
Hearing damage is serious because it cannot be corrected by surgery. Although hearing aids can help some individuals, some hearing loss cannot be corrected with a hearing aid. OSHA notes that the sound level of a lawn mower maintained for at least eight hours can be enough to result in damage to one’s ears. In early instances of such exposure, a temporary hearing loss might be the only problem. However, construction work exposes employees to consistently loud noise levels almost daily.
Because hearing loss can take a long time to become noticeable, a construction worker might not be aware of the damage for many years. However, some construction contractors will monitor employee hearing along with other health issues as a facet of safety management. Even if this type of monitoring is not provided, construction workers might want to have their hearing checked periodically to gauge the effects of the work environment.
Uncommon workplace injuries related to hearing loss could include unexpected explosions or other extremely loud incidents, which could lead to instant damage. In such a case, a workers’ compensation claim might be filed to address the medical needs and the potential permanent impact on one’s ability to work. With hearing loss that has occurred slowly during one’s construction career, legal help might be needed in filing a claim.