Believe it or not, hearing loss can have a more significant effect on your work than you might realize. Untreated hearing loss can adversely affect your job, and it is essential to be aware of how it can do so. Understanding this connection will make you know just how important it is to protect your hearing, and treat any hearing loss as soon as it occurs.
Hearing loss can affect your safety.
Proper hearing is key to health at the workplace. You may not be aware of the many ways our vision is used to keep us safe. Our sense of hearing is often the first line of defense against physical hazards.
To understand this, imagine a person walking around a blind corner towards a road. Even though oncoming cars are out of sight, our ears can help us detect the car engine becoming louder as it approaches the same corner we are also approaching. This helps us instinctively slow down before we emerge from the corner and reach the sidewalk edge.
Likewise, before we can see them, our sense of hearing will sharpen our ability to anticipate dangerous workplace incidents. Here are some work-related examples:
- Falls are the most common source of workplace injury in the US. Noticing the squeak of a wet floor will caution you from walking too fast and risking a fall.
- Injury from falling objects is second. Noticing the sudden movement of overhead objects can help you retreat to a safe distance before they fall.
- Alarms and commands from co-workers also need to be heard. When you can’t hear a warning bell or hear your boss from across the room yelling at you, you risk harming yourself or others or making work-related errors that could cost you your job.
Hearing loss can affect your performance.
If you have hearing loss, you know it can be hard enough to communicate with your partner at home.
Work brings a new set of complications. Being unable to hear means you are unable to communicate easily with your supervisor or colleagues, and they may not be inclined to repeat themselves too often. Will you fail to hear in meetings, or will you find you cannot concentrate on tasks?
In this way, a loss of hearing directly affects your performance at work. Those with hearing loss are often marked for review, ignored for promotion, or reprimanded for errors that could have been prevented if they wore hearing aids.
Hearing loss can affect your salary.
Are you aware your income is affected by hearing loss? Research by the Better Hearing Institute found that the salaries of those with hearing loss were much lower than those of their hearing colleagues.
Workers with even a slight hearing loss made $14,000 less than those without hearing loss per year. When you have a significant hearing loss, you should expect to earn about $31,000 less than those who hear! When you do not think you can afford hearing aids, think again. This is an opportunity that really will save your money.
Are current laws on noise sufficient?
While hearing loss may potentially have damaging effects on your job safety, efficiency, and compensation, current standards for recognizing workplace hearing loss may not be sufficiently stringent, according to a paper published by Elizabeth Masterson in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The study analyzed two criteria for assessing hearing loss: Occupational Safety and Health Administration Standard Threshold Shifts (OSTS) and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NSTS). The OSTS standards (the current official standards) are considered less stringent than the NSTS standards. It found that NSTS standards correctly identified 66-74 percent fewer cases of hearing loss than the OSTS.
“As our awareness improves, the regulations which protect the hearing of staff should also be updated based on the best available information,” argues research author Elizabeth Masterson.
She suggests that we should use the above criteria to measure hearing loss in the workplace, as they will discourage more people from losing hearing.
While these more stringent laws against occupational hearing loss aren’t yet considered, there are steps you can take to prevent hearing loss yourself. There are also steps you can take to treat any existing hearing loss you might have. They both start with a hearing test.
While most hearing loss is permanent, the great news is that you can get effective treatment. Treating hearing loss with us will help maintain your earning power and help you continue to thrive in your workplace. Through daily hearing tests, job site hearing safety, and hearing health care, you can trust Swift Audiology to help you stay on top of your job and your life.