Hearing loss a subtle work injury risk in North Carolina

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is working to clarify enforcement standards for noise in the workplace.

North Carolina work injuries
involving profound hearing loss can greatly impact the quality of life of employees. Most often, such accidents are the result of being exposed to years or decades of noise levels on the job that are known to result in hearing loss. In some cases, loss of hearing can result in job loss or disability. Those who believe they have suffered injury from excessive noise while on the job should consult a North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss their rights.
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“Thousands of workers every year continue to suffer from preventable hearing loss due to high workplace noise levels,” OSHA reports. “Since 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that more than 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss. In 2008 alone, BLS reported 22,000 hearing loss cases.”

OSHA current enforcement of noise exposure of less than 100 decibels relies on hearing conservation programs, including the use of ear plugs. The proposed changes would require noise reduction through available engineering technology or administrative changes.

“There is sufficient evidence that hearing protection alone cannot prevent workers from suffering preventable hearing loss,” said Michaels. “Easily applied administrative or engineering controls can and must be used to protect workers. There are plenty of employers out there who play by the rules and want to do the right thing, and we’re hopeful we can work with them to craft a policy that’s good for all.”

However, the government has extended the comment period on the proposals until March 21. This often happens when a large number of complaints are received by businesses, which would have to invest in the work-safety technologies.

“We’re very eager to get input from those parties who would be affected by this proposed interpretation,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “We have by no means completed our review of the issue and seek to make an informed decision that is in the best interest of protecting workers, yet sensitive to the operating changes businesses would need to make.”

If you are dealing with a work accident or injury in North Carolina or are dealing with a worker’s compensation or disability claim, contact the Law Offices of Lee & Smith today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 800-887-1965.

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