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Work in manufacturing sector may lead to hearing loss

Tennessee residents who number among the approximately 16 million people employed within the Manufacturing Sector of the U.S. workforce may be interested in learning more about the most common occupational illness recorded within this diverse group of industries: occupationally-induced hearing loss. According to the National Occupational Research Agenda, incidents of hearing loss must be work-related as well as severe enough to have already resulted in hearing impairment in order to be recorded by OHSA.

Reports indicate that the greatest rate of hearing loss growth occurs during the first 10 years of exposure to occupational noise and imply that those new to the workplace may be especially at risk. With continued exposure, however, workers at later career stages could suffer occupational hearing loss to the degree that the frequencies necessary for understanding speech are affected.

Tennessee workers might want to note that there may exist many instances of measurable occupationally-induced hearing loss that are not OHSA-recordable, as any hearing damage suffered has not yet resulted in hearing impairment. Hearing loss could happen so gradually that some manufacturing industry workers may not even realize that their ability to hear frequencies within the normal range for humans has been compromised.

Although researchers and some manufacturing employers are partnering in an effort to identify ototoxic factors, improve workplace practices and reduce the risk of hearing loss to employees, these actions may not necessarily relieve employers from responsibility for any such losses suffered, and in some situations, workers who believe that they may have suffered work-related hearing loss could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

These individuals may find it beneficial to contact a workers’ compensation attorney for advice. The attorney could review the circumstances surrounding the loss, negotiate with employers’ insurers and help clients file the necessary paperwork to receive aid for medical expenses and potential loss of income.

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