Did your doctor recently tell you that you suffer from work-related hearing loss? You just joined the large number of workers who suffer from one of the most prevalent workplace injuries here in California and elsewhere across the country. Whether caused by noise levels or chemicals where you work, this ailment changes your life, since reversing the damage remains a medical impossibility.
How will I know if I am losing my hearing?
Keep an eye out for the following clues to hearing loss:
- Voices of others sound muffled.
- You ask people to repeat themselves.
- You experience difficulty hearing someone or something through background noises.
- You need to turn up the television or radio in order to hear.
- You struggle to hear alarms on equipment and vehicles.
- You struggle to hear the engine of a vehicle.
- You experience difficulty hearing the beeping from vehicles as they reverse.
- You suffer from tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Some of these issues present a mere inconvenience as first, but as they progress, they threaten your safety, your relationships (both personal and professional) and your livelihood. Psychological side effects also plague those with hearing loss. Common emotional and psychological issues include depression, isolation and agitation.
Continuing to work in the industry that led to your hearing loss could become impossible, which also threatens your financial security. You can no longer perform the job on which you once counted to sustain you and your family.
So what happens now?
Fortunately, you more than likely went to a doctor before completely losing your hearing, which many consider a "cumulative injury." Caught early enough, certain changes stop the loss in its tracks. State and federal agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, require employers to provide hearing protection, which sees improvements periodically.
In the meantime, workers' compensation benefits provide you with any required medical care, along with other benefits to help with the financial losses incurred by you because of this workplace injury. Depending on the severity of your hearing loss, benefits such as disability could help as well. Obtaining the benefits you need thrusts you into a complex process that causes frustration and stress to many injured workers. Enlisting an attorney to advocate on your behalf removes some of the complications associated with the process.