Illinois workplaces like construction sites and factory floors can be extremely loud. That’s why workers who perform their duties in these types of environments are usually encouraged to wear ear protection to prevent hearing loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 20 million Americans are exposed to dangerous levels of workplace noise each year. Workers in the mining, construction and manufacturing sectors have the highest risks of getting some type of hearing injury.
Many of the regulations dealing with noise in the workplace date back to the 1970s. That’s why a growing number of safety advocates believe that the time has come to revisit them. The onus is generally placed on employers to monitor sound levels and provide workers with adequate ear protection when noise becomes hazardous. However, even the most thorough of safety protocols cannot force workers to wear the protective devices supplied to them or prevent them from engaging in risky activity outside of work.
OSHA requires employers to provide workers with ear protection when workplace noise levels average 85 decibels or higher. Unfortunately, this protection can be uncomfortable to wear, and employees who do not fully understand the extent of the threat often choose to work unprotected. Employers are currently required to provide audiometric testing to high-risk workers and notify them when noise reaches dangerous levels.
Employers may contest workers’ compensation claims by arguing that the injuries concerned were not suffered while at work. Hearing loss can take years to develop, and employers may claim that rock concerts, powerful stereo systems or firearms rather than factory machinery or construction equipment are to blame. An attorney with workers’ compensation experience may anticipate these tactics and help a worker file a claim.