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Job Related Hearing Loss

We help clients who have suffered hearing loss due to noise exposure at work.  That loss may be due to one or a few very loud sounds at work, or can be the result of many years of exposure to literally deafening noise.  The gradual loss may not be noticed until it’s serious. If you fear you’ve lost hearing, or the work environment is so noisy you fear that may happen in the future, contact our office to discuss your options.

The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has a hearing conservation program designed to protect workers with significant occupational noise exposures from hearing impairment. Generally, employers with ten or more employees fall under OSHA’s jurisdiction.

Employers Need to Monitor and Protect Their Employees’ Hearing

The hearing conservation program requires employers to monitor noise levels to identify employees exposed to noise at or above 85 decibels (dB) averaged over 8 working hours, or an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA). Employers must monitor all employees whose noise exposure is equivalent to, or greater than, a noise exposure received in 8 hours where the noise level is constantly 85 dB.

To put this in perspective, 85 dB’s is about what you would hear inside a car on a city street. A normal conversation is about 60 dB’s and a twelve gauge shotgun blast is about 165 dB’s.

According to OSHA, the employer must establish and maintain an audiometric testing program, including baseline audiograms, annual audiograms, training and follow up. The testing program follow up should indicate whether the hearing conservation program is working.

Employers must compare annual audiograms to baseline audiograms to determine whether the employee has lost hearing ability or experienced a standard threshold shift (STS, an average shift in either ear of 10 dB or more at 2,000, 3,000, and 4,000 hertz).

Hearing Protection Must be Offered to Those who eed it

The employer must fit or refit any employee showing an STS with adequate hearing protectors, show the employee how to use them and require the employee to wear them. Employers must also notify employees within 21 days after the determination that their audiometric test results show an STS.

Employers must provide hearing protectors to all workers exposed to 8-hour TWA noise levels of 85 dB or above. This requirement ensures that employees have access to protectors before they experience any hearing loss.

Contact Our Office

Your ability to hear may not be something you appreciate until you lose it.  If you feel that you have lost, partially or completely, your ability to hear because of conditions at work, set up a private meeting with an experienced Delaware workers compensation attorney. Contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Our office is open Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., but we will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. We will travel to your home or the hospital if necessary.