Construction sites are often sources of hazardous noise production. While these noises might be a temporary nuisance to passersby, they pose a much more real and lasting threat to workers. Construction workers in North Carolina who are routinely exposed to loud noises on the job are at risk for hearing loss and other hearing-related injuries.
Hazardous noise levels
While construction workers face a number of on-the-job threats, perhaps few are as overlooked as noise. This is perhaps because hearing loss is generally a gradual process, and may not be immediately as noticeable as something like a cut, broken bone or burn. Sources of dangerous noise levels on a construction site include:
- Heavy machinery
- Loud or buzzing tools
- Large vehicles
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health — NIOSH — reports that 23% of all workers in America have some level of hearing loss after on the job noise exposure, and another 15% suffer from tinnitus. Tinnitus is a condition that causes buzzing or ringing in either one or both ears. According to NIOSH, construction workers have the second highest risk for hearing loss.
There is currently no cure for hearing loss. This means that North Carolina employers should be proactive when it comes to protecting their workers from hazardous noise levels. When an employer fails to provide adequate training or safety gear, or when a worker’s hearing is affected regardless of precautions, he or she may be able to pursue benefits through the workers’ compensation system.