When you think of workplace injuries, you typically think about one-time events leading to a serious injury. These could include events like:
- Falling from a ladder
- Getting an electrical shock
- Injuring yourself on a machine
- Getting struck by a falling object
- Slipping and falling on a slick surface
These are just a few examples, but they are the types of things that can instantly put you in the emergency room. There is no question that you have suffered an injury, and there's no question that it happened at work.
But what about issues that take longer to develop? Even if you do not ever get hurt in a major accident, could your workplace leave you with permanent damage that may never heal?
One of the best examples of this type of injury is hearing loss.
A common problem
Per the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hearing loss is an incredibly common occupational illness for workers in America. Every single year, roughly 22 million employees face dangerous exposure to high noise levels while on the job.
Safety protocols can help. Employers may require workers to wear hearing protection at all times. However, when workers face prolonged exposure and/or when they are not given the proper equipment, they are still at risk. Spending 30 or 40 years working in these environments means that people may retire with damage that severely impacts the rest of their lives.
On top of that, the NIOSH and the CDC note that more than 30 million workers in America see yearly exposure to hazardous chemicals. Chemicals classified as ototoxic are harmful to a worker's ear. Even without high noise levels, contact with these chemicals could harm a person's hearing.
It is incredibly important that workers know exactly what risks they face.
The true cost
The impact of this type of damage cannot be overstated. A workers' quality of life could drop drastically. His or her ability to perform that specific job could even decline, leading to a loss in wages.
Workers may need medical treatment and they may also need to use medical devices like hearing aides for the rest of their lives. They may lose the ability to enjoy hobbies that they once loved. They may feel like they are aging prematurely, which could lead to depression and other emotional or mental issues.
Even though this type of injury often develops slowly and people do not even realize what is happening at the time, it can dramatically harm a worker forever. It is very important for those who deal with these serious issues to know all of the legal options they have.