OSHA reported that “an estimated $242 million is spent annually on workers’ compensation for hearing loss disability.” NIOSH, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, has created an app for smartphones that is working to put an end to work-related hearing damage.
Noises at high decibel levels can kill the nerve endings in the ear, causing permanent hearing loss. This type of inner ear damage limits a person’s ability to hear high frequency sounds and to discern speech, making it incredibly difficult to communicate. Hearing damage frequently happens in professions with loud environments. NIOSH advises that a workers’ environment should not exceed 85 decibels for an 8-hour period. Any longer time period and any higher decibel level can be damaging to a person’s hearing.
NIOSH has created a “Sound Level Meter” app available for Apple and select Android devices that can measure the decibel level workers are subject to at work. This allows workers to check their work stations for damaging sound levels. Putting this information in the hands of the workers allows them to make important decisions about their health.
OSHA indicates warning signs for workers at risk of hearing damage. Your work environment might have damaging decibel levels if you experience ringing or humming in your ears after work, if you have to shout to be heard by a coworker that is only an arm’s length away while at work and if you have temporary episodes of hearing loss after work.
Anyone dealing with these work-related issues can now use NIOSH’s free app to determine if their work environment truly is dangerous. To find the most accurate results, NIOSH recommends using an external microphone.
All workers deserve to work in healthy and safe environments. If you believe the decibel level at your job is damaging to your health you can notify OSHA at 1-800-321-6742. Your contact will be kept confidential.