About one in five people in Portland has hearing loss. The majority are of prime working age, meaning they must deal with their hearing impairment on the job. In fact, many of them can blame their hearing loss on work. Overcoming the challenges of a hearing impairment at work requires a team effort.
Occupational Hearing Loss
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 22 million Americans experience hearing loss as a result of noise exposure at work. People are most at risk in traditionally noise professions such as construction, manufacturing, mining, carpentry, law enforcement, music and the military. Hazardous on-the-job nose levels represent the top work-related injury and are responsible for $242 million in annual workman’s compensation claims, according to Department of Labor figures.
According to your audiologist, you can develop hearing loss in Portland at any job – even if you aren’t employed in a high-risk profession. One-time exposure to an extremely loud sound, such as a gunshot or explosion, can cause immediate and permanent hearing loss. The consequences are steep: impaired hearing has a negative effect on your productivity and can even hit you where it hurts the most – your wallet.
Overcoming Hearing Loss at Work
48 million Americans have hearing loss to a certain degree; 60 percent of them are actively employed. In addition to the communication challenges their hearing impairment brings, those who have not sought treatment for their hearing loss earn an average of $20,000 less in salary per year compared to employees who wear hearing aids, according to a study by the Better Hearing Institute. Employers are affected, too; they must deal with lost productivity and higher health care costs. Untreated hearing loss costs U.S. an estimated $18 billion.
This doesn’t mean workers with hearing loss in Portland have no recourse but to grin and bear it. OSHA has developed strict requirements for employers in noisy workplaces to implement hearing protection protocols to help prevent hearing loss impairment. For those already feeling its effects, the Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates that employers must provide a positive workplace environment that accommodates those with hearing loss. You have the right to request a quiet place to work that is free from noise and distraction.
If a coworker is suffering from hearing loss, you can help them out in the following ways:
- Face them when you speak. Many hearing-impaired individuals rely on lip-reading and other visual cues to help understand. Make sure your face is visible and well-lit during conversations.
- Speak clearly, not loudly, and don’t mumble or slur your words. Repeat or rephrase what you have said if the other person has trouble understanding.
- Keep any phone calls you make to your coworker brief and to the point. Reiterate any important information before hanging up.
- Try to limit workplace noise, especially when you are in the vicinity of their desk or office. Avoid impromptu conversations and talking over office partitions and cubicle walls.
Be patient and understanding and provide them with the tools to succeed. A friendly and warm working environment takes a team effort!