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No matter what preemptive measures you’ve taken, workplace injuries are bound to happen from time to time and some of them are too unpredictable to avoid in time.
For instance, according to NCBI, hospital workers are at high risk for workplace injuries – roughly 7% of hospital workers are injured every year – simply because they work in an unpredictable environment.
But what about all of those preventable injuries we hear about all the time? Why employers aren’t taking the preemptive measures to prevent them? What is the most common injury anyway?
The most common workplace injury
When you’re thinking about common injuries, simple things like slip ups, falls and accidents involving tools first come to mind. However, it turns out that the most common workplace injury is perhaps even more preventable than the ones we mentioned – get ready for it – hearing loss.
Surprising as it may be, according to recent research from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 22 million workers in the United States are exposed to dangerous levels of noise at their place of work on a daily basis.
The industries that expose workers to noise on such a regular occasions include construction, mining and manufacturing. One of the main reasons why this fact is so surprising is because in basically every country in the world, workplace regulations require ear protection for workers in these industries.
So what’s the problem? Is the ear protection equipment our workers use completely ineffective? No, the equipment is effective enough, and what’s worse, most of the cases of hearing loss happen no in high-noise workplaces, but in medium-noise ones, where the workers don’t realize noise is affecting their hearing in the first place.
How to prevent it?
Researchers from the Stanford University recently conducted a study that revealed that worker who experience hear lost in most cases work around moderate noise levels. This happens because in place that have high noise exposures, workers are aware of the fact, so they naturally always wear hearing protection.
On the other hand, in low-noise situations, people don’t think ear equipment is essential to their safety so they simply don’t wear it. And in this case, the solution for this problem is pretty simple – employers and managers just need to raise awareness about the risk the workers are facing and encourage them to wear protective gear more often.
But educating the workforce about the risks is actually not enough, because a noticeable part of the staff probably won’t take the situation seriously enough to change its behavior. In that case, the leadership at the company needs to make small changes to their safety policies and ensure compliance form the workers.
The regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration require employers to even provide workers with hearing tests and free equipment if they’re exposed to 85 DBs of noise for more than eight hours per day. Moreover, the maximum noise exposure allowed by the administration is 90 DB of noise for eight hours.
What is being done about it?
Seeing how so many workers are experience hear loss, it’s not surprising that a number of government agencies and federal departments is making an effort to combat this problem. For example, the US Department of labor is currently trying to reduce the number of these accidents through their “Hear and Now” camping, that aims to get bids on ideas to alert workers to dangerous noise levels.
The CDC department also currently has a campaign titled “Buy Quiet” that encourages business owners to buy quicker tools and reduce the amount of noise on their premises. If you visit their website, you’ll easily find a good list of different tools and noise levels they make.
This not only makes things easier when companies are looking for quitter equipment but also helps manufacturers of these tools by creating more demand. OSHA is also planning to issue a request for data by the end of 2017 to determine if their guidelines need some changes and check if larger companies are complying with their guidelines.
Employers should definitely be thankful that the government has made such an effort to address this problem, because companies around the country have been facing lawsuits because of these incidents for years. Workers are now quick to hire an experienced firm like Adams & Co. that specializes in compensation suits as soon as they get injured.
Every worker that experiences even a moderate or a mild hearing loss has a workers’ compensation suit ion their hands. Furthermore, according to statistics provided by the US Department of Labor, every year, more than $242 million in workers’ compensation is spent for hearing loss disabilities.
Whether a company decides to get rid of noisy tools or opt for some high-tech options for managing noise exposure – one thing is certain – every business owner needs to do everything in his power to eliminate these problems if he wants his company to keep a good reputation, keep the workers satisfied and safe for years to come.